No one likes change. It’s human nature to seek out things that are familiar and known to us. And so often, we meet change with hesitation and resistance. This hardwired instinct is our brain’s way of safeguarding us from potential risks and dangers. However, it can also hold us back from embracing new, more efficient, and innovative ways of doing things.
When it comes to conveyancing, we only have to look at the last 10-15 years to see just how much change the industry has endured. Electronic conveyancing, verification of identity, Foreign Resident Capital Gains Withholding, GST Withholding. And so the list goes on… Often (somewhat unsurprisingly), these changes were met with resistance and frustration by those impacted.
Having endured so many regulatory changes, business owners have found themselves needing more time and motivation to make impactful procedural changes to modernise their conveyancing businesses. Familiar, safe processes can be easy to accept, even if they are slow and heavily manual. However, for your business to continue to grow and thrive, a more streamlined, technology-driven approach is essential.
So, how can understanding the psychology of change help conveyancers and their staff transition to modern conveyancing practices?
First, let’s understand the brain’s resistance to change
Our brains are wired to resist change. To our brain, familiarity equals safety. In conveyancing, this means that even if your current methods are slow, error-prone, and frustrating, they still feel safe because they are known to you. On the flip side, learning something new can trigger feelings of uncertainty and potential risk.
Think about your current processes. You probably use many extra steps and workarounds to overcome the limitations of the tool or process and ensure a successful outcome.
But what if you could change your process or system to avoid the need for these safeguards?
Objections to change are entirely normal. Often, they’re rooted in our instinctual need to be in our ‘safe zone’. So, rather than bulldozing through any objections to change that your team may raise or donning a ‘like it or lump it’ attitude, you’ll achieve a far more favourable outcome if you address them with empathy and understanding.
Embrace your and your team’s worries and anxieties
Feeling worried, anxious or overwhelmed about change is entirely valid. It’s a sign that your brain is dealing with an unfamiliar situation. It’s essential to convey to your team that these emotions are normal and not insurmountable obstacles. It is OK that it may take time for everyone to adapt and feel comfortable with new processes and tools.
Open, honest and frequent communication without fear of judgement or negative repercussions is vital to ease your team’s concerns about any impending change. In all honesty, it’s pretty likely you’ll experience many of the same feelings yourself. After all, if you’ve done things the same way for many years, any change to this ‘norm’ will feel tricky at the start. You may even second-guess your decision to implement the changes at points throughout your journey.
Being kind to yourself and your team, setting reasonable milestones and reflecting regularly on your progress are essential.
Don’t forget to learn from your mistakes
Mistakes may happen. In fact, we can almost guarantee that they will, especially during the initial learning phase. Instead of viewing these mistakes as failures, consider them opportunities for improvement. Put a plan together for how you will mitigate or manage these mistakes and, most importantly, learn from them.
Again, open communication with your team is key here. They should feel confident about bringing concerns or challenges to the table to workshop solutions and receive additional training for any ‘sticky bits’.
Sharing stories with your team of how you’ve overcome challenging issues can help everyone feel more confident navigating new systems and processes.
Give yourself time, change doesn’t happen overnight
Change takes time, and it’s essential to acknowledge that things might take longer than expected while you’re in the learning phase. You cannot expect to implement a new system or procedure and get things done as quickly as before from day one.
Of course, the goal when implementing changes in your office is to be more efficient and work more effectively. So it can be disheartening when what you thought would speed things up actually seems to take longer. Be patient with yourself and your team. As you gain experience and practice, your efficiency will increase, and these processes will get faster.
Future-proof your conveyancing business
Embracing change in your conveyancing office is not just about adopting the latest new flashy tech. Change for the sake of change or because ‘everyone else is doing it’ won’t cut the mustard. It’s about looking at your business, your staff, and your clients and evolving and adapting to meet their new needs in this fast-paced, dynamic industry.
And while we’re hard-wired to resist change, recognising the benefits that the change offers, and allowing yourself and your team grace as that change is implemented will enable you to future-proof your business. They say that change is a journey, not a destination, and those who embrace change will be well-positioned to thrive in this evolving landscape that is the modern conveyancing industry.