Greg Nathan's Tip #29: Taking the Pain From Change

This week Greg discusses the benefits of including franchisees in decisions about changes within your franchise system.

Taking the Pain From Change

Isn't it great when you have one of those light bulb moments and see something familiar in a fresh light? It happened to me recently while facilitating a course on Franchise Relationships.

We were discussing the major causes of conflict, one of these being the poor implementation of change. The team from Snap-on Tools, who were doing the course together, then shared how they successfully get a high level of franchisee buy-in to their new product launches. Their secret was in how they give their franchisees opportunities to make small decisions at various steps throughout the launch process. Their process got me reflecting on an important principle we often forget when implementing change.

We all like to feel in control of our life and the changes we undergo. These are the “changes we choose.” In the case of a franchisee, much of the change that affects their business “chooses them” in the form of franchisor decisions. But the franchisee's basic need to feel in control of their future never goes away. And it's when our basic needs are threatened that conflict breaks out.

It makes sense then to build in opportunities for franchisees to make decisions about the change, as this will help them retain some sense of control. This doesn't have to be big. For instance, psychological health research has found that patients experience significantly less pain when they are given a choice of which arm to have an injection in. And they are also more satisfied with their doctor just from being given this simple choice! So even if the options are choosing between a rock and a hard place, it can have a positive impact on the way people experience a situation.

What franchisees want most of all

“But,” I hear you say, “what do we do when their are no avenues for franchisees to make any decisions about the change?” In this case, we need to respect some of the unwritten rules of belonging to a group. People in a democratic society have a fundamental belief they are entitled to be listened to when a decision is made that will affect them and their group. Failure to do so often results in a “How dare they!” reaction as people feel their rights have been ignored.

The point is, when big decisions are being made, you should ensure people believe that have had an opportunity to be listened to. Those of you who have worked with me and my team will know there are some pretty cool group facilitation techniques that can efficiently achieve this.

Unfortunately, we often see franchisors brush

over the process of listening to franchisees during an important change process. For instance, we recently conducted a analysis of over 3,000 franchisee responses to the open-ended question, “Do you have a message for the leadership of your franchisor?” The most common response was, “Listen and consult more with us.”

The challenge for franchisors is, by the time they announce the change, they have already spent countless hours listening to and debating with their internal management team and are busting just to take action and get started! Here, the only solution is to simply be patient, take a step back and acknowledge the franchisees' need to feel listened to and consulted.

After all, good listening is the essence of good communication and is the ultimate way to show respect for other people. And when you think about it respect is what strong relationships are built on.

We'll be talking a lot about how to get franchisee buy-in to change at our Profitable Partnerships Boot Camps later this year. If this is a relevant topic, I hope you will join us.

Until next time,

Greg Nathan
Franchise Relationships Institute

Early Bird Registration Expires July 22, 2011!
If you and your team are planning to attend Profitable Partnerships Boot Camp this year in Dallas or Denver and have not registered yet, do so before the 22nd of July to receive the Early Bird discount. Click here to register today.

P.S. I'll be giving one more free webinar this summer. I hope you can join us. Here are the details:

10 Strategies to Drive a Healthy Franchising Culture
Tuesday July 26, 2011 at 2:30pm MDT

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