Things are going well. Sales are up, compliance procedures are being followed, customers are happy, and on most nights, it feels like your operation is a machine running well. But then, there’s a product shortage, a problem with a vendor, a fight between two employees… and suddenly you’re thinking, “things have got to change.”

Well, there’s no better time to add a few resolutions to your list. Start by taking a hard look at what’s working… and what’s not. When a problem occurred, what could have prevented it? Pull your team in to analyze a particularly sticky situation and ask them to brainstorm solutions. Include those who aren’t involved directly… they often provide the most objective view. Then, globalize it and determine what needs to be done. For example, instead of saying that Jim needs training on food prep equipment, label it “implement a foodservice equipment training and evaluation program.” Then, get ready to make a proposed change a reality.

Change is a painful process that leaves some of the most motivated employees limping. How can you go through the process of implementing change while keeping morale high?

Change with a purpose. Initiate change only when it will make you more productive or profitable.

Chart a course, but don’t fly solo. It’s easier to sit by yourself and create organizational charts and systems designs, but it will only be successful if you get people involved in the solution.

Reward innovation. Let all employees know that ideas are welcome and encouraged. Respond to suggestions promptly and award suggestions that pay off.

Ask for volunteers. You’ll be surprised who shows up… and what they can do.

Treat the solution as a temporary measure. Don’t commit to it until you’ve tried it… and you’re sure it’s the best fit.

Go slow. Choose one significant change at a time. After your team’s completely implemented the change, move on to others. Their confidence will make the next change go more smoothly.

Implementing Change to Support Your Vision

Your vision should state where you will be in the future: what you will deliver, what your profit will be and who your customer will become (and it doesn’t say maybe). Show employees how the change you’re implementing will help the organization reach its vision. Here are a few ideas to keep your vision top-of-mind:

  • Post it. If your vision statement isn’t where every employee can see it every day, move it.
  • Get real. Make sure everyone gets it: this vision is the direction your big boat of an operation is heading and any bad days are just rocky waters.
  • Analyze this. How can you navigate with your vision statement? Get your crew on board with brainstorming sessions. Take apart each section of your vision statement and ask the group to brainstorm concrete tactics that each department could employ to make this vision a reality.

From everyday procedures to your overall vision, the best way to implement change and motivate your team members to do the same is to change yourself first. As Thoreau put it, “Things do not change… we change.”