In my seminars, workshops and webinars, I often ask the audience the following question, “Why do people resist change?”
I get a lot of good answers like:
- They fear the unknown
- They are uncertain about what the outcome will be
- They worry things might actually get worse
- They admit they want to protect the status quo
But I’ve learned along the way, both in my own business and now as a consultant to so many other businesses for so long, that the number 1 reason people resist changes is… Fear of Failure!
I didn’t understand this phenomenon when I was young so I was baffled as to why my team would resist the change I was proposing when it was clearly getting rid of something they said they hated with something they agreed could possibly be better.
It was only with a lot of 1-to-1 discussions with existing staff and in being a trainer who built great staff members from willing people with no skills to willing people with great skills did I unlock the key to getting buy-in to change.
I had to let them know that, “On my watch, I’m not going to let you fail, and here’s what I’m doing to make sure this change is going to be something we will embrace and grow from.”
Then, I’d lay out a step-by-step approach for every change I ever wanted to implement. The good news for me is that I quickly outgrew the trap of procrastination as both an owner and a manager. By my mid-20s, I found out that procrastination rarely solved anything or worked out for the better. All procrastination did was prolong misery caused by something that needed to be changed or done away with. Dragging my feet only hurt the situation because many times I lost the opportunity to plan and implement, and then I was thrust into crisis mode.
Owners and managers can be very resistant to change, not just employees.
Sometimes owners resist change because they feel that whatever they’ve done to get to where they are is something that must be continued forever. When in most cases, the skills that got you and your company to whatever level you’ve attained are not going to be the new skills you need and must learn to keep reaching the next higher level. You must change and adapt.
Sometimes the owner has grown up in a family business and the mandate from the former generation at the business is, “Leave things as they are.”
An industry friend told me one day, “A contractor is willing to try anything new… as long as his dad and grandfather has tried it first.”
The lucky difference for me is I was blessed to have a dad that encouraged my brothers and me to constantly strive to be innovative and even embrace new technology and new horizons as we would go and grow the company. He planned and acted and that was what he taught all of us to do.
Managers can be procrastinators because their owners are resistant to change and too attached to the status quo. Sometimes, they feel rightly or wrongly that the only good idea to their owner are the ideas they come up with. So, the managers are left to be asking themselves, “What’s to be gained by pushing my boss to stop procrastinating and to embrace the changes we feel are for the better?”
How do you break this vicious habit of procrastination?
You learn how to plan and execute. Planning is always in writing and is done when it involves all the leaders in the company so they get and stay on the same page.
A great plan sets the goal for the next 3 to 5 years for the company in objective numbers and descriptions like:
- We will grow top line sales from $2 million a year to $4 million a year in 3 years
- We will do that by adding a minimum of six well-trained Techs who can each generate approximately $325,000 per year per truck
- We will add the plumbing trade to our existing hvac business to help keep us busy during the normally slow (aka “shoulder”) seasons when it’s neither hot nor cold
- We will be able to add a second location in addition to our main shop so we can expand our service territory more effectively and increase sales and efficiency
Then, the great plan will have a list of all the projects and habits required to drive you to the above goals. The key thing is all of it is tied to each of the action steps having its own deadline. It’s key because if you don’t define when it needs to be done, you give yourself permission to procrastinate because… hey you can’t miss a deadline if you never set one.
Every project, every habit, and every task you and the company do must be written out, broken out into smaller doable steps, and each step must have a clear due-by-date.
Now, there is no Goal Police coming to your home and taking your dog away if you miss the deadline, but the hope is you will see that if you’re missing deadlines too often you’re back in the trap of procrastinating.
If you can’t do it on your own, pay someone to be your Accountability Coach to help you keep on tracking and get great at planning, executing, and reaching goals on time the right way.