Contractors should be experts in transformation. After all, you’ve adapted to some pretty big changes in just the past few years. Government shutdowns. Stay-at-home orders. Supply chain disruptions. Talent shortages. Even cyber scares.
To survive, you created workarounds and kept moving. And yet, many contractors find themselves stuck in a loop, reacting to the latest crisis rather than thoughtfully managing and planning for change.
It’s time to break the cycle.
Nearly every day, we talk to clients who have delayed making operational changes until the damages add up—revenue dips, customers leave, or employee head for green pastures. How can businesses like yours proactively manage transformation? It requires a fundamental shift in company culture—and small steps will take you there.
To transform from the company you are today to the company you want (or need!) to be, you’ll need to avoid common transformation mistakes, prioritize opportunities for transformation, and become proactive.
Common mistakes that companies make with change
Smart companies learn from the mistakes of others. See if any of these missteps sounds familiar and consider the tips to fix them.
- Taking the wait-and-see approach: These change-adverse organizations won’t try something new right away. They prefer to watch what happens to others and often blame the delay on the need to avoid risk.
The fix: Mitigate the risk of doing something new with knowledge. Send employees for training. Launch a small pilot program. Run a cost analysis. Start small but start.
- No change until pain: These organizations only change under duress—when they are being fined, losing a contract, or blowing a budget.
The fix: Don’t lock into a 5-year plan at all costs or get stuck on needing to reach a “final” version of a project. Find your strength in constantly making small improvements to your product or service to stay on top.
- Allowing employee resistance to impact the pace and outcome of change: Individual employees can be incredibly resistant to change and can derail transformation efforts with their attitude. Don’t let them. You likely already know whom you can count on to handle change based on how employees responded to working from home during the pandemic, getting new technology, or even new training modules.
The fix: Tie employee evaluations to company goals—including the success of transformation steps.
Prioritize your opportunities for transformation
What does your business need to do to become the market leader? Or grow your revenue? Or win more contracts? If you don’t know how to reach your stretch goals then do your due diligence. Study the companies ahead of you, attend industry conferences to learn about new trends, talk to colleagues outside of your company, and identify opportunities for growth.
I suggest starting with low-hanging fruit—a few quick wins can boost morale and get employees on board for more involved initiatives. Then experiment iteratively. What some people call trial and error, I call win or learn. Align your experiments to current objectives. Decide how you’ll assess the results and accept failure as part of the process. What’s most important is the momentum to try, assess, plan, and try again.
Move to proactive
Riding out a storm is different from setting your own course and sailing away. Successful transformation requires companies to be proactive about their transformational cycles.
You already know what it takes to build a business or win a contract. So, apply those business skills to your growth and write a strategic plan. Assign resources. Set a schedule. If there are requirements coming down the pike, adopt them early. Differentiate your company by being forward-looking.
An added benefit of being proactive is the agility that comes with it. A company that is managing its transformations will be able to adjust faster to unforeseen circumstances because they’re used to doing things to improve the organization.
The final word
You already figured out how to do virtual meetings in a pandemic, how to fulfill contracts with a shoestring staff, or how to meet deadlines despite supply chain woes… so keep going and use that adaptability to transform finance, IT, or other departments or capabilities in the same way. Every contractor should be an expert in change.
About the Author:
Edward Tuorinsky, a Service-Disabled Veteran, brings nearly two decades of experience to DTS in areas of leadership, management consulting and information technology services. Prior to founding the company, Mr. Tuorinsky was a Captain and logistics officer in the U. S. Army, serving at various locations nationally and abroad, including Korea, Germany, and Kosovo. For ten years, he also headed the professional services divisions of two federal government consulting firms, managing multi-million-dollar project portfolios, with billions of program dollars at stake. Prior to that, Mr. Tuorinsky worked for L-3 Communications, where he provided project management and consulting expertise for the development of several federal government logistical systems.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Executive Mosaic or its publications.