Habits are funny things; good or bad, they can be the making or breaking of a person, or even of a business. What’s learned isn’t always easy to unlearn. My mother, for instance, couldn’t get used to the new arrangement of her kitchen when we moved after years in the same home. Because of that, she wasted a lot of steps and effort trying to do things in the same way that she had in her previous home. Logic had nothing to do with it – that’s not how habit works. And no matter how many times we pointed it out to her, she didn’t change (and she didn’t particularly enjoy having that pointed out, either!).
As your business goes through a consolidation phase, keep in mind that when you introduce changes in processes, you’re not only modifying a job’s physical routines, you are also impacting individuals’ sense of their relationship to their work, and asking them to change their habits. The more secure they feel in that relationship, the less they will resist process changes. Don’t become so focused on new and improved processes that you forget how they may impact your staff. If your staff feels threatened by them, it doesn’t matter how valid and needed the changes are. People normally want to keep doing things the same way they’ve always done them, whether those ways still work or not. So you may need to bring in someone who can see more clearly and objectively to help you work through the process of rebuilding your processes to scale to your company’s new size.
Your staff is made up of a network of relationships that allow them to work well together. Take advantage of that network rather than ignoring it. When you work with it instead of fighting against it, you’ll encounter far less resistance.
If you introduce processes that your staff doesn’t understand and hasn’t been taught how to do, you’re going to slow things down rather than speed them up. Staff feels frustrated and resentful—and so does leadership—but it’s not the staff ’s fault. Clear and frequent communication is vital. Even more essential is a willingness to invest in your people.
Management’s role during consolidation is to make sure staff is fully involved in the changes that need to take place. Habits are easier to reset when you’re all in it together, supporting one another in your efforts. When everyone is onboard, change happens far more quickly and efficiently.