Five ways to embrace change in your practice
Contributing writer Owen James from Janus Henderson’s Talent Development team details five actions you can take to navigate change in your practice and come out stronger on the other side.
6 minute read
- Undergoing significant changes in your business can cause uncomfortable periods of uncertainty for your team and your clients.
- Adopting strategies that focus on embracing change – rather than resisting it – can help you navigate through inevitable challenges and reap positive benefits from change.
- These strategies involve small shifts in your mindset and how you interact with others.
Let’s be honest: change is scary.
When there’s a lot of change in your business – such as personnel changes or big shifts in client needs due to market trends – it can feel like “living in the grey area” will never end. Uncertainty can spread like wildfire throughout your team, and worst of all, your clients might feel it too.
In my career as a talent development professional, I have spent a great deal of time helping teams address change internally so they can continue to put their clients first. If you’re struggling to address a changing environment in your practice right now, following are five strategies to help you embrace change and come out stronger on the other side.
1. Build social capital
As a financial professional, you understand the concept of capital. Think of your social connections as a form of capital that you invest in and build upon each time you have a meaningful or positive interaction with your peers. These interactions go a step deeper than asking about the weather and can be as simple as stopping by someone’s desk to ask how their child’s weekend activities went, or as involved as scheduling a weekly lunch with a colleague.
Perhaps the most useful and immediate invitation to building social capital is asking someone for help. This shouldn’t feel transactional; the most important thing is to show a little vulnerability, and also to make it clear that you will reciprocate by helping the other person whenever they need it.
The returns start to show themselves when change brings difficult times for you and your business. If you’ve consistently been building social capital – even in times of stability – you’ll find that people will want to help you. And you’ll be grateful, knowing you would do the same for them.
2. Control the controllable
In times of change, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the new obstacles you’re facing. If you choose to worry about all of them, it can lead to burnout. On the contrary, there is great power and productivity to be harnessed when you choose to only worry about what is within your control.
Ask yourself: “To what extent can I control what I am currently fixating on?” If the answer is “not very much,” then make a mental or physical note to put it aside and instead prioritize something where you can make a real impact. Your to-do list – and ultimately your clients – with thank you.
3. Contract the conversation
There’s a difference between going up to someone’s desk to bombard them with an update about a meeting you just had and going up to their desk to ask, “Do you have two minutes for me to tell you about a meeting I just had?” The second option is called contracting the conversation, and while people often don’t realize you’re doing it, it’s a powerful tool. It allows the other party to “opt-in” to the conversation. Implicit in this concept is the ability for people to counter-contract. For example, they might reply with: “I don’t have two minutes right now. Can we catch up at 1:30?”
Contracting the conversation can be used in small-scale scenarios like the one described above, but you can also use it when communicating big changes at your practice with your team. This might sound like: “Can I share a new process I’d like to implement with the team?” Your group will likely be more receptive to changes when you discuss expectations for the conversation up front and they feel empowered to counter-contract.
4. Know your Type I and Type II decisions
Internal change can involve a lot of decision-making. It’s helpful to group these decisions by Type I and Type II. Type I decisions are the kind that should be made quickly – make the decision, and if the result is failure, fail fast and learn from it. You should be empowering your team to make Type I decisions as often as they can. This keeps the business moving forward by allowing people to test new ideas and learn from them. If someone needs guidance making a Type I decision, offer it in a “Yes, and…” or “even better would be…” format, so they feel encouraged to own the decision you have delegated while accepting feedback.
Type II decisions, on the other hand, are the ones you need to get right the first time. Focus your team’s time and energy on the due diligence required to take the most considerate and educated approach to these decisions.
By identifying and then strategically delegating Type I and Type II decisions within your business, you will increase efficiency when you need it most.
5. Expect (intentional) chaos
A temporary state of chaos in a business is often unavoidable following change, and it can lead to dangerously high stress levels. Don’t underestimate what reframing your thoughts on this situation can do. When thinking of your turbulent work environment, choose to think: “I am paid to solve problems,” or “I expect chaos in my work right now and I am here to address it.” The more you establish these thought patterns, the more emotionally resilient you will be to weather the storm – and provide the stability your team needs to successfully navigate change.
When working to apply these strategies, it’s helpful to think of the marginal gains theory, or “the notion that small, incremental improvements in a business process, when added together can make a significant improvement.”1 In other words, you don’t have to implement these ideas flawlessly right away – even small changes can add up to more overall success at your practice.
Change might be uncomfortable, but I have seen firsthand how beneficial it can be to both companies and individuals who embrace it. Furthermore, given the pace of change in our industry – not to mention in the financial markets and economy – we simply cannot afford to resist or ignore the shifts occurring around us. I hope you find these five strategies useful as you and your team navigate an ever-evolving landscape.
If you’re interested in learning about more ways Janus Henderson can help your team succeed, reach out to your local sales director for information on our The Elements of Extraordinary Teamwork program.
1 “How A Marginal Gains Approach Can Transform Your Sales Conversations.” Forbes, May 27, 2021.