The hardest part is changing your mind.

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The end of the year is coming, and it is a perfect time to look back on the previous year. Many of us have had annual reviews at work, or have gone through a review and goal setting process with your staff. Maybe you received some bad news in your review, or you’ve recognized that things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped in your business or your home life.

You know something needs to change, but what?

Sometimes there are people and situations that you simply need to get away from. An abusive spouse or boss needs to be left, and reported, for example. But for the most part there are significant changes you can make to help situations.

The hardest part is changing your mind.

In order to change the way that you approach things next year, you need to change your mind about what needs to be done. You’ve made mistakes, sure, but for the most part you think that you have been doing what needs to be done. I bet you could list some good reasons for everything you did last year, even the mistakes.

If you things to change however, you will have to change that.

You cannot continue to think you have it all figured out. You will need to put yourself in situations that you are not used to, so that you can break your normal frame of reference. You will need to spend some time with people you don’t normally associate with, so that you can learn what makes them tick and gain a bit of their perspective. You are going to need to read books that you don’t normally read that will stretch your thinking.

Not everyone really wants things to change, and I get that. Sometimes we are pretty comfortable with the way things are and just like to gripe about a few things.

We can all grow and develop into better people though, and I would say we have a responsibility to do so. You have been given numerous talents and abilities, and have been put in a particular time and place in order to use those. You have the potential to make a real change for the better.

But first, you will need to be able to change your mind because those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

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diving a little deeper on purpose and culture

Diver swims in a Red Sea

Here at Improvise on Purpose we occasionally take a break from our regular programming to take a deeper dive into a topic of interest with some brief but meaty white papers. You will find them in a menu on the home page (on the right of the page).

Today we are taking a dive into the world of organisational purpose.

In our last paper we talked about how the main unifying force within any organisation is its mission, or sense of purpose. You need to be aware of this purpose, be able to clearly articulate it, and ensure that it is activated at all levels of the organisation.

We’ve all heard the adage however, that culture eats strategy for breakfast. But what is culture? How does it develop? Can it be changed? How?

These are really look questions, and to get a preliminary answer to them take a look at the brief but meaty white paper on purpose and culture.

freeing the front line to actually respond

empower

Not that long ago I had to upgrade my phone. Well, okay I didn’t “have” to, but my contract was up and I wanted to see what else was out there. I liked my phone, but it was a bit small in storage and I couldn’t install all the apps I wanted to.

So I went looking.

I started with the store of my current phone company, thinking that they would be willing to help me so that I would stay a customer. Boy, was I wrong. As I walked into the store, no one was willing to help me. They didn’t even acknowledge my presence. One was sitting behind the counter playing on their phone while the other was helping another customer, who seemed a bit upset.

I browsed a bit, and then turned around and walked out. I went to an independent store which seemed very eager to help. Figured out the phone I wanted, as well as what it would cost.

I decided to give my original provider another shot. Went into a different store and got the same greeting. None. This time I walked up to the counter and explained my situation. I noted how I was treated at the last store, mentioned what phone I wanted and what it would cost at another carrier. I asked if there were willing to do anything to keep me with the company.

The agent just sat there and looked at me blankly. After a bit she said, “Well, there’s nothing I can really do. You could call customer service, but I don’t think it would do any good.”

So that was that. I left, and switched carriers.

Last week we talked about how to break a bad impression, and noted you need to acknowledge what you’ve done, learn from the experience and change what you’re doing, and also be transparent in HOW you are changing.

The biggest difficulty with all of this, it that it will need to be the front line employees who will do most of this work. It does no good for corporate to be aware of the situation and fix it on behalf of the store.

But how do you do that? How can you train your front line staff to be able to do this kind of work?

I don’t think its that hard actually, but it requires a shift in the way we train and treat those staff. We cannot think of them as easily interchangeable and feed them a list of procedures and protocols. They need to be seen as the most valuable employees, and trained as such.

They need to be given clear guidelines, sure, but after that they need to have the flexibility to actually make decisions.

This takes trust, and a different approach to training but it is possible. In this day and age, I would also argue it is necessary.

How do you empower your employees?