Continued from a previous post.
When leading an implementation, there are four essential characteristics that I’ve found separate the elite implementers from the pack:
- Conscientious Leadership
- Emphasis on Relationships
- Hunger to Learn New Skills
- Focused Hustle
Let’s talk about an Emphasis on Relationships.
What does having an Emphasis on Relationships mean?
When talking about implementation, you are talking about change. Rarely does one thing get implemented that is the same as the thing it replaced. In the gaps between one system to the next are the people – the end users. A true implementer is fully aware of this gap and puts as much weight on building and maintaining those relationships as they do to implement the software.
Why is an Emphasis on Relationships significant?
In a survey conducted by Dr. Richard Florida with 20,000 Creative Professionals, he found that 9 of 10 critical motivators for employees are Intrinsic (or internally driven). Of those 9, one-third of those are relationship-based.
In short, relationships, in large part, is what keeps us motivated to stay in our jobs.
In a previous post about how to treat your end users, I extolled the virtues of curiosity, generosity, empathy, and kindness. The implementers that connect, as well as implement, are successful not just in the initial implementation but the relationship far beyond it. However, it starts with showing up and caring. Yes, you have a job to implement change, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of meaningful connection. And if you believe in Dr. Florida’s data – that is why people stay at their jobs.
A single implementation is typically only a portion of the change that is needed. In a recent McKinsey survey, 8% of Companies felt that they were ready for the coming digital disruption. Translation? Many implementations are coming on the heels of the one you are working on. The relationships you build and maintain in the first will help the cycle of change for years to come.
What happens when you don’t have it?
I think most of us have experienced a scenario where the lead implementer did not place any emphasis on relationships. I certainly have. In my example, the implementer walked in and told us how it was all going to work and then left. That didn’t exactly work out well for either the implementer or us. We made our viewpoint on that very clear.
When the lead implementer treats the end-users as an impediment – it never works. Never. Humans are stubborn creatures and if they don’t feel a connection with the change or the person leading the change – they simply aren’t going to jump in and go along. An implementer who has emphasized relationships has not only built bridges with the end-users but has likely given them enough context to understand the age-old question every end-user has: What’s in it for me?
References and Resources
- McKinsey Data
- Richard Florida – The Rise of The Creative Class: Pulled Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation data from this book
- Jon Acuff – Do Over: I borrowed the four characteristics from Jon’s book
- Adam Morgan/Mark Barden – A Beautiful Constraint (Source: &Strategy – adapted by Michael Hay): Leveraged the diagram by Michael Hay as the foundation of the chart
- Austin Kleon – Steal Like an Artist: For permitting me to “leverage” the above two items.