Organizational engagement: Bend but don't break

By Robert Van Arlen

Senior Advisory Group


Invoking change is not easy, but it is a necessary function of any practice in order to remain open and functioning.

Engagement is how you make a connection with your clients between your unique selling proposition and their specific needs and emotional buy in. We’ve talked about how to better engage each client on an individual level, but not about how to organize your practice around the engagement concept.

Change is necessary for survival. There are six major forces for change:
  • nature of workforce/clientele
  • technology
  • economy
  • competition
  • social trends
  • politics
Your practice needs to be constantly changing in order to stay on top and survive. Think of your practice as a tree in the wind. Wind is the force of change and the tree is the collective structures and behaviors within your practice. When the wind blows your tree needs to move with it and remain flexible in order to not snap and break off, forcing the tree to start again or maybe end.

Create an environment and business culture that leads by example and promotes an overall mission objective that is geared towards service. This can be unique to you and your selling proposition but should be more of an ideal to strive for.

When your practice gets derailed, you will have a reference to help get it back on track.

To successfully implement and promote a healthy and positive culture you must address past and recurring issues. Identify problem areas within your practice that led to upset customers, loss of sales, loss of focus, loss of revenue and places that could be improved. Take each of these on one at a time.

Change your organizational habits and the habits of others within your practice. After 30 days of repetition something becomes habit. Once your new model has been implemented for 30 days, without recurrence, you are ready to move on to the next area slated for improvement.

Create incentives for organizational and behavioral modification

Put your money where your mouth is. This means rewarding everyone within your practice for correctly implementing business culture changes and eliminating recurrence. Celebrate change together as a group to ensure a group identity that solidifies the changes that have been made. Reward yourself for implementing change.

Promote functional alignment

Resistance to change occurs on multiple levels for multiple reasons:
  • Habitual: Programmed responses that have been ingrained within our behaviors to deal with daily activities in an easy and automatic nature. If change goes against these habits, they must be addressed cognitively in order to modify behavior.
  • Security: When change threatens one’s sense of security they are likely to be highly resistant because they feel they need to protect their assets. A change may occur that makes a part of an employee’s job obsolete. That employee would likely resist any changes in that direction.

  • Economic: This is a sense of fear arising from economic risk that results in resistance to change. For example, Joe has been investing in a newspaper ad for years and the newspaper goes under. Joe finds his practice in need of some other medium of marketing and is hesitant to invest in something new and different.

  • Ambiguity: Fear of the unknown.

  • Selective: Individuals and groups tend to only pay attention to what they are comfortable with and ignore other factors. This is the, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” mentality of old world business thinking. In today’s world, constant adjustment and change is necessary to stay competitive and survive.
Test possible solutions

Make sure to always question problems and solutions in a healthy and constructive manner to make sure that they are sound and reasonable to attain. Using SMART goals is a good way to ensure that the implementation of change is feasible.

Analyze your flow of business

Create a flow chart that illustrates business processes within your practice. Are there any areas that are bottle necks? Any areas where flow should be restricted in order to better serve customers or allow time for other processes to occur?

Address these issues by centralizing or de-centralizing process behavior and streamlining sources of inconsistency.

Information availability

How easy is it for you to access the information that you need? How quick is it? Put systems in place that allow everyone who needs access to information to do so in the fastest and most convenient way possible. This means everything from having a great website for your clients and leads, to digitalizing client information and forms for quick and easy access.

Strategic communication

Clear and concise communication is key to interpersonal business, as well as all relationships. First response systems at call centers are great models for maximizing communication effectiveness within your practice. This means that upon the first contact the issues or questions are dealt with. If a customer has a concern or question, deal with it right then and there so that it never needs to come up again. Extrapolate this concept to the systems and procedures within your practice. Make sure that when an issue arises it is dealt with right then and there.

Invoking change is not easy, but it is a necessary function of any practice in order to remain open and functioning. Remember, the winds of change are always blowing and by bending to them and not resisting, your practice will survive. By keeping up, you and your practice can stay on top of your competition and realize continued success.