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Dealing Effectively With Change

You can become a change agent in your company.

If you aren’t willing to change, you’re on the quickest path to extinction—that applies to a career as well as to an organization.

Change is inevitable. It is ridiculous to say you can manage or control change, but you can leverage it. Here are five guiding principles to embracing change and using it to your advantage in your career and in business.

Know Your Business Purpose
Whether you’re in a small business or a large company, you should have a stated purpose. Like sailing, those who have a clear vision of where they are headed will learn how the wind and currents change and adjust their sails accordingly, but still ultimately arrive at their destination.

Don’t Force Change
You can’t force change. As an example, look at companies struggling the most with mergers and acquisitions. Cultures between companies are never identical.  Creating a new culture is a gradual process. Trying to impose one culture on another overnight is a recipe for disaster. Understand there will be resistance to change and work diligently toward a unified culture.

Empower Others
Unless the core management group is energized and takes ownership of change, it cannot and will not happen. The only way to have buy-in is to empower the team and bring back the entrepreneurial spirit. Ensure that each person understands the “why” of their roles and actions and get them involved from the beginning. Make sure you are known as someone who views change as an opportunity, not a threat. Prioritize changes and adjust, and you’ll benefit from them.

Be a Sentinel for Change
Listen well and look for change. If you’re ingrained in your own business to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings, you won’t be able to identify trends and make the necessary adjustments. Three- to five-year business plans are obsolete within months. Your actions should be based on knowing your industry, product, service and, more importantly, what you believe to be the current and possible upcoming changes. The base level changes constantly. Top customer service levels from 30 years ago are the bare minimum required today.

Young Leadership Tips

1. Know your business purpose.
2. Don’t force change.
3. Empower others.
4. Be a sentinel.
5. Welcome risk and accept failure.

Welcome Risk and Accept Failure
Create an environment where risk taking is rewarded and failure is accepted as a necessary part of growth. If your risk takers are punished for trying to make change and “failing,” that becomes the status quo. Create an environment that is action-oriented, welcomes risk and accepts failure or risk taking.

Embrace change and watch your career and your company flourish.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

Shankar Basu Melinda Beckett Maines Meet the Authors
Dr. Shankar Basu is president and CEO of Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc. Melinda Beckett-Maines is national marketing manager for TMHU and is responsible for overall management of the company’s marketing and advertising efforts.


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