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We need a change of mindset

In a world of constant change, successful people and organisations share a mindset that embraces - or at least is prepared to make the best of - new and different ways of working.

We know retail is going through a massive period of change. One major change is the move towards rentals or subscription models, and it started me thinking about how an emotionally intelligent mindset (ie. adaptable, committed, optimistic, collaborative, etc), is critical when there is a massive shift in ways of working.

We already consume music on subscription through Spotify rather than on CD, we watch films on Netflix rather than purchasing the DVD, and we might consider using a Zip Car for an occasional road trip rather than buying a car outright.

What’s even more interesting for me is the appearance of rentals and subscriptions into the perhaps more personal aspects of life. IKEA announced it will start leasing furniture, London based Harth rents home decor, art and furniture and the clothing rental service is experiencing massive growth - Allied Market Research predicts that the global online clothing rental market is set to jump from $1bn in 2017 to $1.9bn by 2023.

Regardless of your personal opinion on whether this is right for you or not, it can only be good for customers who will have more choice (although in my case more options might make my decision-making harder!) - but what does it mean for sales people? How does it make them feel? Does it mean they are out of a job?

We have clients in the automotive sector. This is an industry going through incredible change, with teams moving from selling and servicing internal combustion engines to battery electric vehicles. It’s a massive change, and there are sceptics who think the fuel companies will find carbonless fuel so we’ll go back to ‘normal’ cars… just one example of an approach to change in the face of a radically changing market. I believe these people and the mindset challenges faced in this industry will be shared in any sector that is experiencing change. There will be employees who are massively engaged with the challenge of new conversations with customers wanting something new, and for other employees this will be a step too far. We’ve worked with employee groups who just don’t get it, and in speaking with business leaders in various sectors, ‘badvocates’ are everywhere…

So, how do you get your people - all your people - to get on the bus? (that’s the proverbial bus of course). Our experience shows us that a multi-strand approach is needed.

How do you get your people - all your people - to get on the bus?

Firstly, giving your people the pride and purpose in what they’re doing is an essential foundation. It gives them the reasons why they’re being asked to do something different… and you need to listen to their reasons - not just impose your reasons or those of your leadership teams, on them. The move to rental and subscription services, for example, might resonate for environmental reasons, or concerns over using sweatshops in clothing production, or a growing focus on a de-cluttered life… whatever the reasons for your people, you must show how your reasons connect with their reasons… and once you have a shared story, that is where line management comes into its own - having meaningful conversations that connect the purpose and stimulate the pride, and sometimes just getting behind a shared, clear strategic narrative gives everyone the reasons they need.

Secondly, you need to make sure your top teams are living and breathing the passion too. We’ve all seen examples where managers are all ‘ra-ra-ra’ in the boardroom and then ‘that was a load of nonsense’ when they get back to their teams. That. Simply. Cannot. Happen. It’s the role of the leaders (note I changed from managers to leaders) to live the reasons, bring the passion, set the tone, recognise the challenge and be honest about the exciting and perhaps difficult times ahead. Not all your leaders will get it. Not all of them will find it easy to communicate this, and frankly, again, if they haven’t found their pride and purpose in the direction of the business whilst agreeing a shared narrative, then they’re going to struggle. Bring your leaders on the journey and they’ll be flag-waving ambassadors within the ranks.

Bring your leaders on the journey and they’ll be flag-waving ambassadors within the ranks


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Next, everything you communicate internally and externally needs to be rooted in the purpose. It’s your reason for getting up in the morning. It’s the reason why your people come to work and why they do an awesome job (and conversely if they’re not doing a fab job, perhaps they’ve not found the purpose yet - revert to step one!) To paraphrase Bryan Adams, everything you do, you do it to… underline the why. Every email, every message, every meeting, every event, every piece of printed or digital collateral, must reinforce your purpose, must bring the pride, must connect with your employees. And it’s not just internally… consumers are increasingly looking for brands to meet their purpose expectations… brands like Patagonia - which is driven by an environmental purpose and has helped initiate sustainable coalitions in the apparel industry; and brands like Sky which launched Sky Ocean Rescue focused on improving the health of the ocean by reducing plastic and inspiring people to make even small changes that can make a big difference. There is a growing swell of customers who want to feel aligned with the brand values.

Finally, it’s important to keep monitoring how you’re doing. With constant change comes more change and a bit like Moore’s law, the pace of change keeps accelerating. What was right for your employees, customers and suppliers last year, may not engage today. There are a number of companies that can measure this, according to the metrics that are important to your sector, but that’s not even half of the story… how does that feed into actions, how does that change everything from the nuance of a message, to the full-on strategy?

All of these strands require an emotionally intelligent mindset, and that is what you need to look for in your people… emotional intelligence sets a culture where change is embraced. Regrettably there will be people for whom this doesn’t resonate, resulting in some difficult conversations, but you need to keep at your core that the emotional capability of your team (and thus their appetite for constant change) is what will set you up for future success. What got you here won’t (necessarily) get you there… so first off, set the purpose as the basic foundation.

It’s a mine-field, but isn’t it exciting? Every day presents a new challenge, a new opportunity, a new problem to solve, a new way to serve your customers, a new way to collaborate with partners and a new way to support your people.

If that isn’t working for you, then maybe the first step, as Gary Vaynerchuk says, is to; “find happiness in what you do every day” and from there you can build reasons, purpose and a solid foundation.

Author: Emma Easton

If you’d like a chat about strategic development, creating a narrative, leadership programmes, engaging internal communications and B2B/B2C customer excellence, get in touch and meet us for a coffee.