For A Stronger Business, Make Change Happen
Change happens every day. Some change you can’t control, like a natural disaster or what happens with the milk price. Other times change can be driven through your desire to continuously improve your business to meet changing industry dynamics.
Regardless of how change happens, it’s often resisted. Most people, like cows, are creatures of habit and prefer a status quo lifestyle where consistency and security lead to ongoing stability. But the dairy industry and the consumers it serves, evolve quickly, and in order for your business to keep pace, you need to constantly look for change opportunities.
Nick Candito, co-founder and CEO at Progressly, a company that offers cloud-based business solutions, offered his perspective on managing change in a recent article at forbes.com. Here are the four things he says companies need to do to proactively manage change.
1. Build a business case. “Set the state for transformation by explaining why changes are needed now,” Candito says. Whatever the reason for change, he says, be sure to include a mix of perceived opportunities and potential threats and summarize your analysis in a way that helps employees and stakeholders understand the reason for making the change.
For example, let’s say you have planned to buy a dairy down the road that is failing. Build a business case for why it makes good business sense to buy the dairy, including the opportunities it presents as well as potential pitfalls.
One important thing to remember: a strategy included in your business case does no good to you if it’s not executed.
2. Systematically communicate the necessary changes. “Share the right things with the right people at the right time or you’ll inadvertently rev up the rumor mill,” Candito says. “At a high level, articulate what will change and who will be impacted. Conversely, be sure to highlight what will not change, as this provides boundaries and a sense of stability for people.”
In the dairy farm example, think of your communication process as a pyramid. There are a few people at the top of your organization who need to know first—certainly your partners, any family, probably your lender. Then think about the next, and probably wider, level of people. This would probably include managers on the dairy. They will likely be approached by their employee teams about specifics of the proposed change, so it’s important that they are on board and supportive of the move. The next group is probably your larger employee base.
Don’t forget the people off the farm as well. Riverview Dairy, a business that operates beef and dairy farms on 20 sites in 10 states, emphasizes community relations whenever starting a new facility in a new area. Designated neighbor shareholders help create positive conversations about Riverview’s benefits to the communities in which they are located. “We want to be good neighbors,” says Kevin Wulf, who leads human resources at the dairy. “We hope that [community members] say Riverview helps this community and that it’s an asset here.”
3. Mobilize your employees from the onset. “When employees feel involved, they’re more invested in and supportive of the effort,” Candito says. “Make it clear that everyone has a role to play in successfully implementing the changes and the overall transformation.” Candito suggests sharing details, such as how changes will be made, timing, next steps, follow up training and so forth. And always ask for feedback.
As you make progress toward buying and running your new dairy, consider setting up teams that will help with the transition to the new facility. This could include operational teams, such as feed handling and cow movement, or more management-related functions such as protocol training and implementation for new employees.
4. Roll out in phases and celebrate small wins. “Take a moment to recognize small accomplishments to build momentum for your transition,” Candito says.
As your team goes through the process of acquiring a new dairy and beginning operations there, celebrate the small things along the way that help you reach your goal. And don’t forget to reward outside stakeholders—neighbors, farmers, businesses—that help you reach your goal.