HOW TO MANAGE CHANGE IN YOUR BUSINESS
MANAGING BUSINESS CHANGE
We face change all the time, driven both by internal or external influences. Words like growth, innovation, redundancy, outsourcing, relocation, diversification and competition all signal change.
The trick lies in making the necessary changes before they are forced upon you – minimizing change that can impact on profitability and maximizing change that creates opportunities.
Most people, in particular employees, are uncomfortable with change because it interferes with their routine and exposes them to the unfamiliar.
It’s better to drive change than let change control your business. It’s also important to identify any need for change early on.
Think where your business needs to be in one, three and five years’ time. What do you need to do to get there? For instance, a publishing company won a government contract to run workshops. But looking ahead, they knew the contract for government funded workshops wouldn’t last, so they diversified into online training before the contract came to an end. Implementing this change lessened the impact of losing revenues from the contract once it ended.
It’s also important to monitor what your competitors are doing, specifically, what do they do better than your business? Consider bench-marking your performance in key areas, such as customer loyalty and cost per sale. What can you adapt or improve? Look at parallels in other industry sectors. For example, have competitors invested heavily in websites? If selling over the internet works for other businesses, could it also work for you?
Many businesses ‘reinvent’ themselves as a result of change.
Decide which changes are most important and focus on the changes with the biggest potential benefits - not the easiest ones to implement.
Aim for continual smaller changes rather than a few large ones. Large changes are harder to digest and can interfere with one another, while small-scale changes are easier to manage.
Focus on getting some small wins on the board. A string of successful small changes will breed a positive culture of change in your business. Remember to consider both the personal and business implications of the changes. The end objective can seem so desirable that important details can be overlooked. For example:
Change usually involves going into unknown territory, but others will have been there before you, so seek their input and advice. Talk to business associates and learn from the experience of people who have made similar changes.
Trial the change
If the change you’re contemplating is risky, run a pilot project and evaluate the results to identify any necessary adjustments before rolling out the full project. Establish a timetable for change, and preferably phase in the change as it allows you to address any problems early on.
Selling the change
Whatever the area of change, you will need the co-operation of your employees. However, resistance from employees is often the biggest stumbling block to successful change. Some possible sources of resistance include:
If you’re implementing change for a good reason, you should be able to sell your idea to the people affected:
Communicate clearly and often
The key to managing change successfully is to keep staff informed. Start communicating the change as early as possible, so people have time to come to terms with it. Avoid communicating any ideas that aren't concrete as to avoid confusion.
Allow time for feedback and listen to the views of any skeptics – they may help you avoid costly mistakes. Even small changes can backfire if they’re not handled sensitively.
Consult with those affected before implementing any changes. Those involved may be able to suggest alternatives that deliver the same results more effectively or more cheaply.
Make some bold early moves to let people know that change is really happening.
Making change stick
It’s critical to follow through on your plans. Keep monitoring and reinforcing the change. When completed, point out the benefits achieved from the change and how the business has moved on so employees see the value of change.
Create a culture of change