We're building a fibre broadband network across Christchurch and currently provide our services to about 7,000 Canterbury businesses. We want these businesses to make the most of the world-class connectivity – to become more productive, grow faster, reach more customers, improve customer service, increase business resilience and save money.
For most businesses this means doing something that can seem scary – changing the way your people work.
Only a few years ago, we were a small local start-up ourselves with five employees, and throughout our history we have been growing and transforming – so we have a good perspective on what it takes to change how a business works. Our advice to any local business is to ensure your people sit at the heart of your growth an change journey – both through using their knowledge and by involving them as much as possible.
1. Get your people involved
Get your people involved in the change process as much as possible. They may understand the need for change best from being at the coalface and can often be the biggest advocates once a change is made. Using technology as an example, your people will have excellent insight for the development and/or the purchase of the right new technology for your business. If your team is too large to have everyone involved, then choose people from around the organisation – just don’t leave the decisions with one person or a single department.
2. Promote the benefits
Just like anything new, people are more likely to welcome change with open arms if they understand and buy into the “why” and what the benefits are. Keep the communication simple (not everyone loves jargon) and positive. Business improvement, whether technology based or not, should add value and make things easier… and who doesn’t love that?
3. Lead by example
Simply put – if you’re not embracing change, why should your people? All eyes are always on the leaders and managers – they set the tone and culture. Different rules should not apply to management – so if you want a new way of operating to take hold, you must lead it.
4. Make change a part of your culture
It’s critical that change is a constant in your business – it’s what drives growth and progress. Help your team understand this and get them excited about the potential of new ways of operating. Adaptability is key to modern business survival and growth, and can sometimes feel hard or uncomfortable. Make it ok for your people to ask for help and inject some fun into the change process – through engagement with your people, coming up with your own way of describing change or fun project names.
5. Engage your early adopters
Some people may have been involved or seen similar business improvements or technology adoption somewhere else. Some people just love new approaches or new technology – and they might not just be the ‘young ones’. This group of people will be passionate advocates and may be able to lead the change plan for your business, or at least help others in the team get onboard.
6. A good user experience is critical
It’s all about the user experience these days. If you’re changing a way of operating or introducing a new technology that’s not intuitive or easy to adopt, then you should look for something that is. If it’s not a good experience, then chances are your people won’t embrace it and your investment will be lost.
7. Invest in the right type of training
People learn in different ways so ensure your training caters for different learning styles. Some of your people will be happy with listening and watching in a group environment, some need to be actively doing to enable the learning to sink it. You might find short one-on-one training is more effective than longer group sessions, and the cost could be the same.
8. Ask for feedback and act quickly
As you roll out your business improvement or new technology, proactively ask for feedback and be prepared to make the odd change. It may simply be a case of determining the biggest user-issues and getting these fixed quickly.