People like the familiar.
Change can be a threat. However, the most successful financial companies in the future will be those who embrace change, preempt it, and manage it.
Successful managers of super community banks must be able to integrate change into their companies. What are the roadblocks? How do you deal with them?
Expect resistance. Many people in your company will not embrace change. The more effective your change process is, the more resistance you will get.
As you initiate change, you should realize that it will stir up resistance somewhere. By anticipating it, you can deal with it in advance.
Here are several ways to solidify your organization's response change and mobilize the work force in the direction you desire.
Explain why. Senior managers' actions often seem arbitrary. The troops just don't understand why the generals are changing the battleground.
Explain the logic of what you are doing and how your people fit into the new framework. Not everyone will embrace your vision, but all employees must clearly understand what you are trying to achieve, what changes are proposed, and why.
Identify the targets. Because change breeds uncertainty, a target gives hope. It creates direction and a destination for the journey. People no longer feel lost. Clear goals help keep people from giving up.
Consider the implications. When confronted with organizational change, most people worry first about how it will affect them. The sooner you address that question and eliminate the uncertainty associated with job security, compensation, and the like, the sooner your troops will be ready for battle.
Pre-position. The side effects of change can be difficult; as they say, "it gets worse before it gets better." Tell the troops in advance that it will. Promise them problems before relief. If you promise them a rose garden, their expectations will not be met; their spirits will be crushed, and your credibility as a change agent will disappear.
Flatten the organization. Bureaucracy is the enemy of change. Bureaucracy means rigidity, layers, delays, and rule-bound minds. If you have a bureaucracy and you want to change, you'll have to get rid of it.
Align compensation with your new goals. If your employees are to move in a new direction, pay them to do so - by restructuring compensation and tying it to the new behaviors that will support the change.
Deal openly with resistance. "The conventional army loses if it does not win," Henry Kissinger once said. "The guerrilla wins if he does not lose."
Resistance survives inside organizations in pockets. It's necessary to eradicate it and minimize it.
Some people will be straightforward and share their concern about change with you. Others will sabotage through passive resistance, through paying lip service to what you are trying to accomplish, yet not acting on it.
These people are your worst enemies in the process of change, and they must be sought out - not ignored. By treating them with respect and explaining your logic, you will keep resistance from escalating.
Another way to reduce resistance is to give people the tools and training necessary to deal with change. Often we expect people to perform new tasks without giving them the knowledge they need.
Inspect what you expect. The proper measurement of activities, behaviors, and results is essential to success. Constant monitoring is a critical agent.
Change is a central ingredient in the management of financial services. Effective administration of change and an organizational embrace of change are nonnegotiable for the success of super community banks. Be realistic: not everyone will join you in your journey, and many will need convincing.
Ms. Bird is chief operating officer of Roosevelt Financial Group, St. Louis.