You’ve been to the keynotes, the conferences, and the webinars. Maybe you’ve even read the books and done the training sessions. But when it comes to turning inspiration into action and outcomes, you might feel like embarking on and managing change isn’t so straightforward.
With an ever-expanding ecosystem of apps comes the pressure to stay up to date on the best tech (and how it works). The financial services industry is changing fast thanks to all that innovation.
While you’re busy sifting through websites, contemplating free trials, and sitting through demos, your clients’ expectations are changing too.
Their lives are also filled with endless streams of information about how to make their businesses better. They need guidance and support. They’re looking to you and your firm to find the right tools and provide trusted advice in a volatile marketplace.
Developing strategies to stay flexible can help you be proactive about change in the future. Adjusting your perspective from “How do I make immediate changes?” to “How do I get comfortable with change in my practice?” can reduce the sense of overwhelm that’s inevitable when things are in flux.
Changes only stick when adoption happens across your team, and across your roster of clients. A great place to start when thinking about changing how you do business is to engage in change management practices. Change management helps guide you through the actual work of change itself, so you’re set up for success when the changes are fully implemented.
Here are five change management tips to help you get started on your goals:
Get clear on your vision.
If you’ve figured out what your clients really want, you might already have some ideas about next steps. Before you approach your team and your clients, you need to provide a “North Star” vision, or a compass to point you where you want to go. This gives everyone a solid direction to move towards. Are you interested in automating parts of your workday? Are you reducing or increasing the time you spend with clients? What does the firm or practice of your dreams actually look like? We won’t tell you to draft a 10-page project plan, or to create a vision board (but either one of those things is your jam, more power to you), but do think about your practice in an ideal state. What apps will help you have the kind of streamlined workday you’d love to have? What boundaries do you need to set with your clients so that you can do your best work?
Allocate resources and define roles.
Change always includes a level of risk. It’s critical to think about your financial resources, but it’s also necessary to consider time and human labor. To carry out change, your workdays will probably need to look a little bit different. In the midst of change, your days might not “look” or feel totally productive for a little while.
Communicate to your clients the work you’re doing behind the scenes. Let them know that you’re working to make their experiences with you more valuable, and that they are still your first priority. You need to ensure the “maintenance work” is attended to, but you also need to make sure that the “change work” getting done is being carried out as efficiently as possible.
To reduce confusion and overwhelm, each person involved should know what they have to do. Will all team members be onboarded to new apps at the same time? Who will be the primary touch point for longtime clients? Ensuring your human resources are used wisely is just as vital as being smart about your finances when transitioning.
Put your people first––that includes you!
You can add a new app or take on a new high-value client, but that action in itself isn’t enough to drive change. It’s the people doing the work who make change happen. Change management revolves around understanding that change is always psychologically difficult for people. It’s important to communicate expectations and set reasonable goals. Resistance from team members, and even within yourself, is bound to arise.
The human brain is wired to resist change. Set yourself up to successfully handle the human element at play in your process. Lines of communication should remain open. Anxieties about job security and job satisfaction may rear their ugly heads. This is when you lean on your vision. Remind the team why you’re changing and how things will be better in the future. Collaborate, share, and seek feedback as you go.
Take your time.
Any change that happens overnight won’t have lasting impact. Resist the draw of quick fixes. Change is stressful, but don’t let the discomfort stop you from making real impact on your practice. You’re aiming to apply new workflows, tech improvements, and skills to work over the long term. It’s not so different than creating a new personal habit. You need to implement processes and repeat until you find a new, and better, “normal”. If you have a team behind you, some people will be able to adapt quickly, but others may feel resistant or lack confidence. While the change you need to make might feel urgent, avoid allowing healthy pressure to turn into fear and panic. It’s a fine line. The best way to motivate others, and yourself, is to take it one step at a time. Then repeat those steps over and over. Embrace the change cycle.
Revise your processes and keep improving.
The goal of change management is not to make change, but to actually become proficient at changing. Innovation isn’t slowing down, and neither should you. When you know how to approach change with a strategy, you can create a repeatable process that’ll make adjustments easier over time. Whatever you implement should be iterative. If you don’t get it 100% right the first time, there’s no shame in trying something different. That said, when you complete a major transformation, it’s important to celebrate. The “always keep improving” model only works if you take a step back and really feel the positive effects of accomplishments. Otherwise, you’re less motivated to try something new in the future.
Managing change properly can mean more business, more client loyalty, more efficiency, and more fulfillment. Making a move to improve takes passion as well as conviction. When you can combine those with a willingness to make mistakes without shame, you have a recipe for success.