February 4, 2010
October 2009 - Change happens and old habits die hard
By Jacki Hart CLP
Prosperity Partners program manager
Whether we like it or not, things change. The manner in which we go about our daily tasks may change naturally, a bit at a time, or by immediate and enthusiastic consensus. However, when you realize you must start to make significant changes in how ‘things get done,’ and add a group of surprised or resistant people into the mix, change can be hard to implement, and even harder to make stick.
I often hear how best intentions to improve a business are thwarted by unwilling team members and the old habits of routine. The hardest part about change in the workplace lies in getting everyone to buy into, and maintain, the new system. I speak from experience in my business. I assure you that changes can become permanent and engaging for the entire staff, when the whole team understands and sees the benefits that result from the new way of doing things in a certain way. It might take more work upfront to implement permanent and beneficial change, but in the long run, you will be miles ahead by following your new road.
Providing that the key leader in the business steps back to see the big picture and set a vision for improvement, change is good. The fastest way to make sustainable change is to create and communicate a clear vision of what it will be like for everyone when it becomes permanent. Being clear about what will and won’t be different, and the benefits from the change will create a climate of excitement and respect. As long as everyone affected sees the benefits of the new way, they will become engaged in the process.
If, on the other hand, change is declared and imposed upon unwilling or confused people, it always will result in a constant struggle and resignation with staff giving up and going back to the old way. This year, and for the next few coming, change is necessary. This has never before occurred in our generation, and therefore needs to be sensible, effective and sustainable.
Featured company: Kontiki Construction
Our feature company this month has undergone many changes through its expansion over the past 33 years. A succession from one generation to the next is typically fraught with resistance to change. As you will read here, Tim McLeish, general manager of Kontiki, has learned to step back and work ON his business and hone his vision for his family-owned company through the Prosperity Program. By doing so, he found new ways to integrate sensible and sustainable changes for the future success of his business.
Kontiki Construction (operating as Kontiki Mature Landscape Specialists) was established in 1976, and focused on large tree sales, large tree moving and residential design/build. It now has five to ten employees, depending on the season.
Q. What is your company vision, and what are you ultimately attempting to create?
A. Our business vision has changed dramatically over the years. My father started the company with one tree spade. We have grown from there to having multiple crews at work each day. This means our focus has gone from keeping one person happy to trying to create an enjoyable working environment for all our employees. As a company, we strive to complete high quality work and provide first class customer service at a profit level that provides growth for ownership and employees.
Q. What are the core values that are non-negotiable in your everyday business dealings?
A. Competence, integrity, honesty and excellence. I try to apply these to all aspects of the business (customers, suppliers and employees).
Q. What things most often keep you awake at night?
A. Professional operations keep me awake at night. Having the right people, equipment and materials at the right place and time are keys to any success. Our competitors are working just as hard as we do to make things better and faster.
Q. What stuck with you the most from the Prosperity Partners Introductory seminar?
A. I was amazed to find how much time I spent working in the business and how little time on the business. Many of the problems I was struggling with were really, after discussion with other participants, a result of me not allowing staff to do things themselves. Even after many years, I was still spending too much time being a technician/manager. I have learned to step back a bit, delegate differently and to leverage the strengths of my team, rather than micro-manage them.
Q. How have you been able to apply the things you learned to improve your business?
A. We have really tried to make a conscious effort to create more and more systems in what we do, as well as focus our efforts on what we do well. This takes tremendous commitment, especially in a business with a long-entrenched culture. Work is beginning to flow much smoother from sales to operations, allowing both divisions to be more productive.
Q. What are your next steps to improve your business, and did the program help you to clarify them?
A. I continue to try to spend more time being a visionary and less time being a technician. The program was great. It showed me what my personal strengths and weakness are and where I need to focus my efforts.
I hope you will join the hundreds of business owners who are benefiting from this unique training. Join the Prosperity Partnership with seminars in every chapter around the province this fall and winter. Please go to www.horttrades.com/prosperity to find out more.
Jacki Hart may be contacted at email@example.com.