The Art of Selling Big Change

When you're ushering in a big transition, it can be hard to get employees and other stakeholders on board. Here's one CEO's approach

Written by Robert Gold & Andrew Brown

“We know change is painful, whether it be in business or in life.” So says Phil Soper, CEO of Brookfield Real Estate Services, Royal LePage and our guest on this week’s BusinessCast.

Soper is a seasoned business executive, with experience in everything from energy and IT to, now, real estate, a business in which he’s responsible for thousands of employees and independent agents. A self-proclaimed professional manager, it’s his belief that the tenets of leadership are the same, regardless of what industry you’re in. And a big part of the job of any leader is to shepherd stakeholders through big transitions.

Whenever a big change comes—be it structural, strategic or technological—Soper believes it’s the job of the chief executive to get everyone in the organization on board with it.

“We have to sell our solutions to our networks,” he explains. “We have to show them very explicitly how their investment in effort and, sometimes, in capital will produce a return for them and their people.”

Read: 7 Ways to be a Successful Agent of Change

And you can’t do that while squirrelled away in an office. During times of transition, Soper says, his work becomes “very much a political” job. “You have to go on the road when there’s big changes,” he says. “You have to rally to get the support of the troops, build momentum and point to past success as a reason they should trust the company and me in adopting painful change.”

It’s crucial to roll these things out slowly, Soper says. He cites the recent migration of his company’s tech backbone to one based on Google technology. The firm started using the new platform on its consumer-facing web properties because those were the least disruptive to the firm’s agents and staff. Once some solid metrics had come in, he began his pitch. “I like to start with proof points,” says Soper. “I was able to show that through implementing these process, structural and technology changes, we were able to double the number of consumers visiting our websites and, even more important, triple our leads, which is filling the funnel that was pushed back from these visits.”

Such highly favourable results make other changes significantly more palatable, Soper argues: “I can say, €˜Here are the tangible business results that came from the first phase.’ It makes it easier to tell staff something like €˜we’re migrating our email systems.”

Listen in to this week’s BusinessCast for more of Soper’s tips on managing change, leadership and handling growing pains. (To download the full podcast, click on the iTunes logo below.)

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Read: 39 Leadership Points to Ponder

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com