This week, Jarvis Jones discusses what it means to be a catalyst of change in your business and why it’s so important for someone to take the initiative of catalyzing change. Listen to the audio or read the transcript below!

Interviewer: Hello Jarvis!

Jarvis Jones: Hi there!

Interviewer:  Today we’re going to be talking about what it means to be a catalyst of change. So in business what do you think it means to be a catalyst of change?

Jarvis Jones: For me, Catalyst of Change means pushing against the status quo. And that could entail looking to make changes to how business is done, how people go about performing their job…it also can entail changing system, processes, and/or changing the culture of an organization.

Interviewer: Wonderful! So what in your opinion and experience, if no one is there to catalyze change in a company, what happens?

Jarvis Jones: Generally, organizations either will begin to see a deterioration in their revenues and their market shares, and market growth, and/or eventually, they become a small player and they will go the way of the dinosaur if they do not change because the marketplace changes and consumers’ taste changes regardless of whether a business continues to grow, development or change.

Interviewer:  Talk to me about employees. What happens to employees if no one is around to catalyze change in each individual person?

Jarvis Jones: Well, for employees, instead of the word catalyst of change, I would  put it more in the context of the development of people. And…a leader should always be looking to nudge their reports or current employees to continue to grow, develop, and look for new opportunities within the culture and structure of the organization..

Starting, of course, with the employee first competently performing their job. In today’s fast pace marketplace, the employee needs to be, one, doing and held   accountable for  doing the job, but also, looking for ways to do their job more efficiently — looking for alternative ways for how to perform that job — again, of course, depending on  the type of position.

Interviewer: So you talked last week a little bit about accountability. How does accountability factor into this personal development you’re talking about?

Jarvis Jones: Well, they’re intertwined and integrated. And by that I mean, regardless of your position you’re being hired to perform certain duties and responsibilities. But in performing those duties and responsibilities, you want to encourage that employee to  of course do their job well, but that should be the baseline.

Secondly, I think  many organizations and leaders especially appreciate those who employees who exceed, if you will, expectations — those employees who look to challenge themselves and  challenge in a respectful and acceptable way the they do their job And, and also, where appropriate, to challenge those around them in  a respectful way.

Employees’ development will naturally come about if they’re looking to exceed the organization’s  expectations and are challenging themselves and those around them. These employees  are going to  develop, which leads to change in themselves and also the betterment of the organization. Also, you want to provide  excellent employee with challenges, challenging situations,  and new situations to take on. That leads to business development and growth and, at the same time, will lead to an employee’s  personal development and growth also.

Interviewer: So for someone who’s a young leader in a company who’s looking for advice on how to manage a company whose office culture has gotten somewhat stagnant — where people aren’t receiving those nudges and that encouragement that you’re talking about. How would you counsel a young leader to  sort of change that culture and make sure that they are you know within reason and within respect, encouraging and helping their employees to develop and change.

Jarvis Jones: Well, this is going to probably surprise you — it may surprise someone and this comes through experience (there is something to be said for experience).

What I would say to that person is, first of all it’s extremely difficult for any individual including the CEO. to change and establish culture, particularly overnight or, even is only  a few years. I’m talking about organizations that are established and that goes for even newer organizations that  takes on a  culture of its  own after only a few very short years.

So I would say to a  young person,  you have to ask yourself —  Is this place really a good-fit for me?  You may love where you work, but it may not be the best-fit for you any longer as far as what gets you up in the morning or, what you need to feel satisfied and as a contributor to the organization.

That is in no way is to discourage a person  from trying to move or change the culture. With that said,  I believe it to be  extremely difficult to change a culture that does not really want to change regardless of the lip-service about change.. Many CEOs — I know this is hard for people to believe because cultural leadership starts at the very top but business environments take on their own culture after awhile and it isn’t as easy as it may sound for even CEOs to change the culture within the organization that they are responsible for leading..

So, the first thing is to check-in  and ask yourself — Am I’m fully being utilized?  And, if the answer is “No”, then, you must also ask yourself  — Is this the best place for me? I know that may sound surprising but attempting to change  a culture that is really not open to changing is often much more difficult than  pushing the proverbial “rock” up the hill.

Interviewer: I imagine!

Jarvis Jones: Yeah! And so,  you know…there’s nothing wrong with pushing that rock up the hill, but I don’t know, I think that there are probably better  environments and “fits” if an employee is truly unhappy where they are currently employed. 

Interviewer: Right — have you ever had success changing an office culture? Have you ever done it?

Jarvis Jones: I’ve changed….Culture, to me, means an overall…it’s what’s in the water. You don’t see what’s in the water. It’s just there. It just is. A fish doesn’t know it’s in water. It just is. And I don’t know if you understand what I mean by that. That’s just the air we breathe we just breathe air we don’t think about it we don’t see it. We just breathe.

Culture is similar. So have I tried to change an entire organization’s culture? No. Have I changed how a particular division department unit does business within that culture? Absolutely. Yes.

Interviewer: So what are some of your best practices when you helped to change the culture of a small part of a corporation? What where — if you had to come up with the three biggest things that ensured success for that transition, what would they be?

Jarvis Jones:What I am about to say comes from experience  and being around, but, first I want to  say that anyone who wants to go change a culture, god bless you, go at it. I mean that. I’m not being facetious. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from attempting to do so. It really is a question of where do you want to spend your talents and energy..

I tell my son — who  just started college — find a place that you…can give and contribute a hundred percent of yourself, learn as much as you can, and if it’s a “good fit”, stay! If not, take the talents and everything you’ve learned there to another place that is possibly a better fit and, as you go through life, repeat this process, because each time you are further along your growth and development as first a person and then an employee.

Jarvis Jones: Can you repeat the question, and and I will try to answer it this time.

Interviewer: Sure, so you mentioned that you have had success on small scales being able to make changes to departments and two specific teams for changing cultures on a very very small level. So what skills of yours do you think contributed to that success?

Jarvis Jones: . For me it’s definitely in a division or department or business unit that I’m talking about. My experience has been in some fairly large companies and relatively large divisions and departments. It definitely starts with the leadership head — the business head. Me personally, I am simply wired to challenge myself and those around me to develop people, to grow people and to strive to bring about the growth of the individual and the organization..

From my experience a lot of times organizations want people to operate within a box, and I by nature am a change agent. So it’s just my natural disposition to provide people with opportunities to develop and grow and to challenge  themselves, while at the same time accomplishing the organization’s goals and objectives.

For me personally my life-model, professionally and personally,   is to always exceed “ expectations” and by doing that rarely  have to worry about meeting or exceeding the organization’s or someone else’s expectations because  I set the bar fairly high to meet my own expectations.

Now the flip side, the danger-side of what I just said is that I have learned that my expectations of myself and of others are very high so you have to be very careful and meet the person at a place where they are are in their development.

Also, in making change, you have to have someone who wants to develop and grow and change. 

Now,  for the other side of that coin. Many people don’t necessarily, want to grow or change. Therefore, when we talk about  standing for catalyst of change,  I find many people really don’t want to be challenged or are very uncomfortable with change or even their own further development and growth. Simple fact,  many people do not t want to change how they operate and definitely do not want to be challenged to approach their job in a different way, once they learned it. . Many people like the status quo.. Put  another way,: many employees get comfortable with what they’re doing and they don’t want to do something different or that might take them out of their established routine. So you have to be able to quickly recognize those people, find a place for those individuals if possible, and also identify those employees who embrace change and are capable of taking the organization to the next level.  Frankly, in most organizations, that a place for both types of employees. If everyone sought to be a change agent in an organization, you wouldn’t need  or have a person called a change agent..

When talking about being a catalyst of change, it is extremely important to remember that someone has to deliver the mail every day to keep the train running on time. My point: there is a need for both types of leadership and employees in order for an organization to grow and thrive. Finding that balance is the long-term key for companies to grow and prosper in a forever changing business landscape.

Interviewer: Perfect! Well thank you so much for sharing today Jarvis I really appreciate it.

Jarvis Jones: Yes, you’re welcome!