Business owners are told time and time again that they need to implement sustainability initiatives in order to remain current, competitive and profitable. There are hundreds of articles online that discuss how large corporations have successfully implemented sustainable practices, and what’s more we hear about the rewards they are reaping on a daily basis.
Among the long list of benefits, business leaders are told that going green will give their business a competitive advantage. They are told that they could save money; that they will attract consumers, clients and talented employees; that they could improve their bottom line and increase productivity all while doing better by the environment and the community. The positives are extremely attractive, but despite the enthusiasm to start, many companies are paralyzed by the basic question of: “How?”
It’s all good and well to be told that you need to implement sustainability practices at your business, but knowing the best ways to go about it can leave even seasoned leaders floundering.
INITIATING & IMPLEMENTING SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES AT YOUR BUSINESS
When it comes to implementing changes in business, clear communication is critical if you want your policy to be adhered to. Make sure every single employee understands what it is they need to change and let them know what will be expected of them moving forward. It is also recommended to put any procedural changes in writing and have everyone sign them to indicate they have understood the new standard.
Don’t just tell your staff what you need them to change, but educate them as to why. What benefits will the change bring to the business? Why is sustainability important and how will it impact upon them in the short and long term? Not only will this help get employees on board, but it will also help them pick up the new process quickly. When people understand the reasoning behind a change they are far more likely to implement it correctly and effectively.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
The ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach is no longer effective in business. People expect a leader to lead, not just dictate. If your employees see you following the new procedure to the letter they are more likely to do the same. You will earn the respect of your employees and set the standard at the same time. Furthermore, proof of your own dedication will boost employee morale, making changes easier to implement in the future.
It’s all good and well implementing a new way of doing things, but if you don’t follow up you might as well have not bothered in the first place. Monitoring progress overall and on an individual basis is extremely important when implementing change at your business. Not only will this keep everyone on their toes and focused on the new strategy, but it will also become a source of encouragement when everyone see positive results and improvements.
Last but not least, reviewing your processes after a trial period and then at three monthly increments is critical for optimum efficiency. Ask yourself and your employees what went well, what could have been improved, what changes led to the greatest developments and conversely, what changes failed to have an impact and why. Analyze these results and modify your approach moving forward. By including employees in this analysis period, you are engaging them in the process and thus encouraging them to fully embrace the new way of working. You are also more likely to get continual feedback from them, which could dramatically help boost your bottom line, while cultivating a positive and collaborative culture.