Change, however small...

This blog post is written in my alter ego of "Wise Owl" guest blogger for the MemberWise Network Blog.   These articles are written with the Chief Executives, senior managers and staff of non-profit organisations in mind.

At this time of year we all see and receive endless numbers of tweets and blogs reminding us that this is the time of year to make resolutions which will make us better, happier, healthier in the coming year.  The inferred threat is that we will only be successful if we do it all NOW.

There is some very well-meant advice at the heart of these reminders, the belief that we can look forward to improvements of all kinds if we, as individuals or organisations, can implement change.  However, that is where most good resolutions come apart because most of us, quite naturally, find altering the status quo incredibly threatening and are consequently quite resistant to the idea.

The most interesting element of making changes that is often left unidentified is that improvements can be found by making the smallest of changes.  Our resolutions and our need for change need not be about promising ourselves or our colleagues that fundamental differences will happen following sweeping changes.  The most valuable change can happen with only the slightest effort and following the smallest adaptation. 

As an example, do you start Monday morning under a cloud because there is so much to do and you don’t know where to start?  Take 5 minutes either on Sunday evening or first thing Monday to list all the urgent items for Monday morning, then everything else can wait its turn as you know you’ve covered the important stuff first.   Do you have a colleague who regularly delivers their work late?  Is their desk a mess?  Help them out - work with them to keep their desk a bit tidier and improve their filing system.  This will mean that they are able to find what they need without delay and assist in completing their work on time.  Do you have a colleague who regularly works through their lunch hour but is dismal in meetings later in the day?  Take them out for a walk at lunchtime so both of you can get some air and rejuvenate yourselves.  Do you work with a volunteer who is very verbal in their refusal to adopt new working methods?  Take some time to work with them face-to-face to demonstrate that the implementation will not be difficult – fear of the unknown is a shockingly negative motivator.

These changes don’t have to be enormous but it’s a good idea to look for any underlying issues which could act as blockages to change as they may not be immediately obvious.  Any change is threatening so one-to-one support is a very obvious way to show your investment in that member of staff while, at the same time, reaping benefits for the organisation.

Implementing such small changes can be incremental and enhance your overall efficiency and effectiveness very quickly.  It doesn’t really matter what you change, the act of making a successful small beginning can change the mindset and open up the possibilities for future change programmes.