It’s a fresh new year, and now is the time when many people start to focus on self-improvement. Personal goals can often include: lose some weight, give up bad habits, or spend more time with family and friends. Organizational goals might include a desire to put new practices in place around security or add new technology/process controls to your organization. But change is hard – what are some of the best ways to help make those new habits stick?
Strategy for Positive Change
I have been involved in many change initiatives over the years and have learned many lessons from those that have gone well and, more importantly, those that have not. Here are four key components that I have found help make change a positive experience, which tends to make it stick over time:
- Clearly communicate the change – It is critical to let people know what is changing and, most importantly, why. Putting a new process in place through a brief company memo is not effective. Randomly dropping a new technology in the laps of your end users is not either. You need to think through an effective communication strategy that will resonate with the people in your organization, be available and open for questions, and continue to reinforce your message to ensure understanding.
- Demonstrate the new behaviors – If you are implementing a new process or technology, you need to be sure to show people you are leveraging it as well. It’s ironic how often we work to help put a new security policy in place only to be told that a senior executive, who initiated the change, won’t be following it because he or she finds it inconvenient. Change needs to be modeled and adopted throughout the organization at all levels to be taken seriously.
- Reinforce with rewards or incentives – If we ask people to do X but reward Y, guess what? They are going to do Y not X. You need to ensure that all aspects of your organization and in alignment with the change, and this includes any type of reward systems, financial or otherwise.
- Celebrate success – Too often when we try to implement change, we point out failures as examples of what not to do. This can create a negative environment of fear and might inhibit feedback that could lead to even more improvements. Rather, we should be rewarding successes and creating a positive energy around the change to keep people engaged and excited about the potential and possibilities.
Putting in place new processes and technology for the new year can help make improvements all year long. These steps can help sustain the positive momentum of implementing change. We all know, however, that more often than not we do a great job staying on track for the first month and then fall off the bandwagon. Let us help support your commitment to achieving your New Year’s goals! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule some time to discuss further.