The key to successful change management? Ask Lawson Products, who has embarked on a slew of changes to its organization – a new ERP system, sales force structure, pricing model, compensation plan and operations improvements.
To do all of this in just a few years is an exercise in change management, and Lawson Products recognizes it needs buy-in from all its employees for these efforts to bear fruit.
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On the sales side – notoriously one of the most difficult areas to manage change – the distributor has made transparency a priority. Executives hold quarterly Q&A sessions with sales agents that can last more than two hours to discuss initiatives such as the distributor's new pricing and compensation models. Other communication mediums include regular company town halls, which are focused on what’s going on in the business and in the overall marketplace. Weekly morale boosters, such as pizza in the cafeteria, have also helped.
COO Harry Dochelli says engaging employees in the process on cross-departmental teams to drive change in the different areas as well as constantly communicating about the changes being made has helped Lawson retain motivated employees. “We’ve done a good job engaging our people in this,” he says. “… That’s given us a lot of energy in our company today. There’s a buzz about where we are and what we’re doing.”
Of course, Dochelli says despite the positive they've seen, there is still a lot of work to do as they push these projects forward. “We’re not naïve to say that there won’t be challenges," he says, "but at the same time we’re thinking this through well, and it is allowing us to take this business to the next level.”
Listen to Dochelli in the May 2011 episode of the MDM Executive Briefing: