What I learnt about business change management and change leadership from changing my own business

‘Life is a Roller Coaster…you’ve just got to ride it’

Truthfully, I’m not a big Ronan Keating fan but he totally nailed it with this song.

When I started my business nearly 15 years ago it was like any bright shiny new relationship.  It could be whatever I wanted and over the years, it’s been just that.

But like all good relationships, Possibility to Reality and I needed and are ready for change.  My clients, skills, experience and technology are all in a different place now and it’s time to grow and adapt. It’s time to bring all the moving parts of P2R (as we affectionately call it!) under one roof, simplify it and make it easier for everyone.

So, I set out to refresh, renew and revamp what I do.  Being a self-professed change junkie, I was excited and buzzing with ideas.

But the roller coaster ride of rebranding a business hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Reflecting on what I’ve learnt over the last year, has provided fresh new insights about myself, business change management and what it takes to make it happen.

Knowing you’re leading change of one kind or another, here are my biggest lessons to save you learning the hard way!

#1 - Don't Underestimate Your Own Emotions

We like to think we make decisions rationally and logically but the reality is that all decisions are based on emotion. We gather and use the facts to justify how we feel.

Ignoring your emotions leads to inner conflict and the trick to making balanced decisions is to step back and consider the facts AND your feelings.

Creating a new brand and redesigning my website required hundreds of decisions and once I used Facts and Feelings Decision Making, it became quicker and easier to keep moving.

This is one part of the simple Decisive Decision Making Process I now swear by!

If you're a procrastinator or someone for whom decision making keeps you awake at night this approach will replace decision making angst with calm confidence.

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#2 - If It Doesn't Feel Right... It Isn't and Act QUICKLY

One tricky decision I faced happened early on.  I’d engaged a bright young digital branding expert who rightly saw that my old brand wasn’t doing me any favours.  Having met, listened and talked through what I wanted, I asked him to design a new logo.

Twenty-six logo designs later, we weren’t getting any closer.  It seemed like he ‘just didn’t get’ what I do or the simple yet flexible design I wanted to create. What he was sending me wasn’t even close.  Frustration was rising and we were both spending many hours going round in circles.

As nice as he was, it was time to pay him for the work he’d done, go our separate ways and find a new graphic designer.  Wiser and clearer, I found a talented designer who quickly grasped what P2R is all about and where we’re heading.

Trusting and acting on your intuition is vital for change and reduces the anguish for everyone when something just isn’t right.

#3 - Guiding Principles Provide Focus and Direction

The potential for misunderstanding change is great and knowing how easy it is to become consumed in the detail, I prepared a P2R Rebrand Brief with a set of Guiding Principles. Both have kept us all focused on the end goal.

Our Guiding Principles were a godsend for the times we got sidetracked, lost and were at risk of heading in different directions.

Before you start a major change, define what success looks like and what matters most and create a set of Guiding Principles that will deliver just that.

#4 - Delegate to Those Who Know Better

One of the hazards of being a high achieving, A-type personality, prone-to-perfectionism type and a small business owner is the tendency to believe ‘If you want something done well, do-it-yourself”.

Having fallen victim to this in the past, I knew there were many parts of this change I simply couldn’t do as well as an expert. I’ve studied and learnt a lot about personal/professional branding and online marketing (this is Website #7!) and know just enough to be dangerous!

But my CEEO (P2R’s technical guru and Chief Everything Else Officer), Graphic Designer, Photographer, Video Agency, Web Developer, SEO Advisor and Virtual Assistant have all done a brilliant job. The result is a huge credit to their collective expertise and endless patience.

The key to delegation is trust. The best way to establish it is to ask:

  1. What do I need to see, hear, know and feel to trust each member of my team?
  2. What do they need from me?

 Then use frequent, honest, two-way communication to set them up for success.

#5 - Know When to Stay True to Your Vision and When to GIVE WAY

While this change has taken way longer than I anticipated, I’m glad I ‘stuck to my guns’ and persevered.  It would have been easy to use any of the usual excuses:

  • I’m too busy
  • It’s near/good enough
  • Other priorities are more important

Yet that would have meant abandoning my Vision, cutting my losses and simply putting it down to experience. And my business would have been stuck.

Persevering and keeping the end goal in sight is all fine and good.  But the only way to keep change moving is to compromise.

While I stubbornly dug my toes in on anything that threatened to compromise the Vision and Guiding Principles, I mastered the art of ‘letting go’ of details that didn’t matter. (I now know way more about website security and  HTML code than I thought I ever wanted to know, but I’m also much wiser for it!)

The key to letting go is perspective.  Frequent ‘reminders to self’ kept my patience and sense of humour intact and stress levels mostly under control.

Special thanks to one of my clients who shared his brilliantly simple, highly effective technique for ‘Giving Way’ – creating a visual of a Give Way sign to simply allow stressors to pass, without incident.

#6 - Real Change Starts When You GO LIVE - Everything Else is Prep!

Having helped many organisations and individuals successfully create change for over 20 years, this favourite belief is one I’ve now experienced firsthand!

Yes, this project has been a roller coaster with many highs and lows. But with the refreshed brand and shiny new website now launched, the exciting stuff can begin!

If you need help to turn your possibility into a reality, contact me today and together, we’ll make your change easy.

Let the future begin!

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron
About Caroline

Caroline Cameron is an award winning, master certified executive, career and business team coach, workshop facilitator and speaker. Caroline is on a mission to help mid-career professionals and evolving organisations harness the power of change to achieve success in business, work and life.

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