Karin’s Leadership Articles

From my perspective, the new system was genius. Instead of our enterprise customers typing in their service orders in an email for call center reps to retype them into our systems (which almost always contained errors) the customers now had an easy interface that would “flow through” to the backend systems. Faster, with higher quality, and an added bonus of working on weekends.

Only one problem, the reps (and their union) HATED it. And they had a point. What about white glove treatment for high-end customers? What about relationships?

The truth is both points were true. Large Enterprise customers wanted efficiency AND differentiated service from THEIR kind reps, like Kenetra. It wasn’t either/or. It wasn’t them or us. It was about working together on building a customer-focused adoption strategy.

And that’s why our Region led the Nation in “Flow Through.”

Although I give some tongue-in-cheek credit to my rendition of “The Flow Through Happens Tonight (to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight). Thank God this silliness preceded YouTube.

If your program, system, or new idea isn’t gaining traction, don’t push– involve.

5 Ways to Ensure a Smoother Roll Out

1. Be Honest about the Benefits

ALL employees care about is WIFM (‘What’s in it for me’) is BS. Sure, employees want to know “What’s In It for them.” They equally want to know what’s in it for you and for THEIR customers. Leaving that part out just leaves them to fill in the blanks and make assumptions (i.e. the next thing you’re going to do is downsize). They want to know you’re thinking this through with your brain, and not just your pocketbook.

2. Start Small

Don’t start advocating for a system that’s not ready or full of flaws. Test it first with a small group, take their feedback seriously and get it right. It’s tough to regain credibility. “Oh yeah, I admit it sucked before, but now it’s better,” only leaves the masses wondering why some bozo made a choice to sing praises for a system that was full of problems in the real world. Even if you think it works well in the IT war room, field test it first. Yes, this takes time. Go slow to go fast.

In the example above, we worked the kinks out with one team and gave headquarters feedback until I’m sure they were sick of hearing from us (actually, me… never make your team be the bad guy). Take the risk of making some waves to make it easy for your team. We were slower out of the gate than most regions. But no one remembers that part of the story.

3. Establish Easy to Access Listening Posts

This is perhaps the most important part. Really listen to what your people are saying. Most importantlly, respond to feedback with solutions–not selling. When you fix something, communicate it back five times, five different ways.

4. Gather Reluctant Testimony

Lift up as many testimonials as you can. Get your most excited employees showing how your new idea, system or process changed their world. Your most influential stories will come from the least likely suspects: the sales guy who never bothered with this crap before; the new rep who’s now running circles around the old timers because she uses the system; the supervisor who got her entire team (including the union steward) doing Harlem Globe Trotter tricks with the system.

5. Involve the Team in Key Decisions

No one wants stuff done TO them, or even FOR them. WITH them goes a lot further. What’s working well and how do we leverage it? What enhancements do we need? Where should we head next? All these questions go a long way.

Are you facing a vital strategic change? Please give me a call at 443-750-1249 to discuss how I can best support you through consulting and speaking. Together we will achieve breakthrough results.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Steve Borek

    All good points. Especially starting small. Create small wins and the buy in will happen organically.

    The only other suggestion would be for the leader to model the way for the new system.

    p.s. Well, YouTube is here. How about a vid with you singing a few bars of “The Flow Through Happens Tonight (to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight). ;-p

    • Karin Hurt

      So agree. Modeling the way is key. Yeah, not happening on the sleeping lion front 😉

  2. Terri Klass (@TerriKlass)

    Excellent Karin! I have lived through sharing a large scale healthcare culture change. The way we approached it was to first validate the fears and concerns of all the stakeholders. It was important for the employees to vent and say goodbye to the past in a respectful way. To shove new ideas down is a sure way for defeat of change.

    Great points especially in involving the team in key decisions.

    Thanks Karin! Happy Easter!

    • Karin Hurt

      Terri, Thanks so much excellent add. So many times people overlook that vital step in an effort to sell in the change.

  3. LaRae Quy

    Love this piece of advice: “Don’t start advocating for a system that’s not ready or full of flaws. Test it first with a small group, take their feedback seriously and get it right.”

    It’s right on, and there is nothing worse for your reputation or credibily than starting out of the race gate before you’re ready…start small and get concise feedback!

    Great post, Karin!

    • Karin Hurt

      LaRae, I’m with you. I recently was working with a company that said, “well we don’t really have a good way to get feedback.” If you can’t figure out a way to get feedback, you’re not ready to roll.

  4. Chery Gegelman

    Great points Karin!

    Go slow to go fast! That beautiful balance. So easy to understand – so much harder to do!

    And I’m with Steve! – How about a YouTube video with you singing?!

    • Karin Hurt

      Chery and Steve, okay maybe some day we’ll have a music video instead of a post, when the time is right.

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