In general, and also specific to the business world, change is the only constant. But it’s essential to manage change well in order to transform your business to become more efficient and profitable. Managers and leaders play a key role in managing change. But some of them still find it a challenge to accept the changes. And this affects all staff eventually.
So how do you ensure that changes implemented in your company go smoothly? And why is it difficult for some leaders to embrace and manage change? Let’s look first of all at types of change and the reasons for it, so we can anchor this in the real world.
Types of Change in Business
- Transitional changes: Changes that are made in an effort to replace existing processes with new processes. They require a huge effort because they disrupt the comfort zone of employees and managers. They normally take place when there’s a change in
- ownership or management,
- creation of new products or services, or
- internal structuring.
- Transformational changes: Major changes that occur when business managers are looking to completely transform the processes and strategies that guide the way a business operates. As a result, these may cause a shift in the work culture. Most of these changes actually occur in response to a shift in the market, or new technology adoption, for example.
- Developmental changes: Changes an organization makes in anticipation of growth in business in order to improve existing business procedures and make them run smoothly. This may include changes in billing procedure, payroll systems, or methods of reporting.
Reasons for Change
1 The Reality of the Economy
Economic factors such as cost increases play a key role in your business making any profit! You have to take note of what’s going on in the global economy and make informed decisions. At times, these impact your organization and cause change. As everyone around the globe is recovering from the events of the past two years, all organizations have to take into account several economic factors such as inflation, buyer’s income, tax rates, etc.
2 Societal Reasons
The consumer has the power to influence not only prices but also the aspirations of the company. Your business has to change to match those of the customers! In the current market, to maintain your position, you have to meet the needs of the modern consumer and global trends. For example, you now have to become more sustainable, more green-friendly, and produce higher-quality products to satisfy the desire for a non-throwaway culture. This is hugely influenced by society’s pressuring to preserve environmental resources.
3 Innovative Leadership
In a world that’s constantly changing, innovation (i.e. change!) keeps your business relevant in the marketplace. For a business that values innovation, therefore, change will be inevitable and change management crucial to help everyone adapt easily and fast. Innovative leadership disrupts the status quo and maintains competitive advantage, but brings conflict for some employees. On the other hand, innovative leadership also creates a positive environment for employees to learn, think outside the box, and grow with your company.
Change Management in Business
Since there’s no room to avoid change and stand still, the only thing you can and should do is prepare for change and ensure your survival!
Change management practices and strategies allow you to deliver spectacular results. They also avoid team members being confused or withdrawing into their rabbit hole when you introduce your organizational change.
However, significant organizational change can be challenging. It often requires many levels of cooperation and may involve different departments within your organization. To manage change better the change management team should consider the following these steps.
1 Prepare to Manage the Change
The change manager has a responsibility to prepare both the organization and employees for what’s coming.
Firstly, communicate early on the need for change and what are the reasons are for choosing a particular approach over another.
Whichever approach you choose, remember to apply empathy when engaging with everyone. There will be adverse reactions to the necessary change. You have to identify any factors that may cause your staff to be against your changes. These factors may include:
- fear of the unknown,
- not wanting to let go of their comfort zone, or
- trying to avoid having more responsibilities, for example.
2 Plan Beforehand to Manage Change Well
This involves establishing all the necessary procedures and steps that you have to take to implement your change.
The key thing is to identify each layer of the organization and its leaders – making sure they’re still aligned with your company vision. Remind them if necessary.
The reason is that some staff will find it exhilarating to break out of the old ways – but rushing into change is fatal. So, all your business managers and leaders need to totally grasp the fundamental reasons for this change and why it’s necessary within your company vision. Otherwise, they’ll inadvertently repeat ways that are not now profitable.
When they fully understand what’s driving the change, it’s much easier to plan for the proper steps everyone needs to take to motivate the rest of your employees.
3 Implement and Monitor the Changes
This is the last stage. You now need to monitor pre- and post-change activities and make sure the change is implemented successfully in the way you intended.
Crucially, your on-side managers and leaders can now act as Change Champions where they observe and help other employees as they implement the new changes.
Don’t forget to have supportive structures in place and to provide effective training sessions for those who need it.
5 Ways to Ensure Long-lasting Change Management
1 Learn From Others
Instead of relying on your own skills and good intentions, realize that change is much bigger than you. You’re human! You won’t have all the answers, tools, and resources. So don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. A good leader is not afraid to make mistakes and always prepares for new possibilities and opportunities. Help can come in the form of professional consultancy, outsourcing skilled people, or just asking the right questions of the right people at the right time.
2 Develop a Communication Strategy
As you prepare to implement change, it’s inevitable you will have to tell the rest of the employees about it. The worst sin is to do it on the quiet. It’s a recipe for disaster.
However, how you tell them will hugely affect the success of the project’s implementation. So determine the most effective channel of communication for each set of employees: the one that will help you get and keep them on board easily.
You need a thorough but straightforward communication strategy that includes all the necessary details you need to share. This might include
- the timeline for when parts of the change will happen,
- key reasons for your changes, and
- all the channels you’ll be using to reach out – and be reached from in turn.
3 Create a Culture That Embraces Change
When an environment doesn’t accommodate and encourage change, it’s going to be much more difficult to manage change when it happens.
How to create this culture? As a leader, you can embrace the idea of change, then plan to create opportunities for employees to embrace small changes at first.
You can also be upfront during your hiring process about your organization’s interest in embracing change as a positive for growth. Recruiting teams that are enthusiastic about change will help spread this spirit to others.
4 Celebrate Success
When you’ve seen how your employees or team embraced change as you implemented new projects and processes, acknowledge it. Celebrate their milestones and overall success!
This lets them know you appreciate their efforts and that they’re doing the right thing for company success.
This also means they’ll feel more motivated to keep achieving goals and embrace bigger changes as they arrive.
Positive experiences with change will also help them build confidence and trust in your leadership. This is the payoff when you have to transition into the next level of change for growth!
5 Seek Feedback
In order to follow through the implementation of the change, you can’t ignore any feedback from those who’ll most feel its effects. Allowing them to voice their views and feedback makes them feel valued. And at the same time, you get valuable insights that will help you improve your project implementation.
In-person interviews, forms, or surveys are all ways you can collect feedback. Be sure to choose a channel that doesn’t make people nervous and afraid to expose their true opinions. An open culture keeps everyone on board when the changes we mentioned up top happen again. As they will!
Having a Hard Time Implementing Change?
Look out for these 10 signs that might mean your business is having a hard time implementing change. Adjust things accordingly.
- Little or no guidance. When implementing something new, you’ve perhaps not given enough direction to people specifically about their new roles and responsibilities. Do it!
- No clear call to action. Even after you’ve expressed the reasons for change, you still need to tell people what action they have to take and help them figure out how to get there.
- Weak commitments. Leaders have to commit themselves to seeing the change through. With no commitment from them, it’s easy to fail.
- No value seen in embracing change. People need to see the value and rewards of supporting change. Encouragement and compliments go a long way in motivating and managing change well.
- Open favoritism. When managers openly side and favor those who don’t embrace change. Beware silos of opposition and meet them head on, with empathy.
- No interest in personal change. When business leaders themselves are not interested in making a personal change, it’s difficult to push for an organizational change.
- Old patterns rule. When the opportunity for change is there but leaders continue to use the old ways during the changeover and prioritize obsolete tasks.
- Avoiding confrontation. If your managers are willing to let their employees’ bad habits and behaviors slide because they want to avoid confrontation. Intervene!
- Refusing others’ feedback. When managers refuse to ask for feedback or to receive other people’s opinions or ideas. This creates unnecessary challenge during change.
- Not assertive. When leaders avoid making difficult decisions that will impact real change. Or when management supports change with empty words in public but doesn’t do anything to effect change when an opportunity arises. Leaders lead!
Benefits of Managing Change in Business.
Overall, when applying changes in a business, the underlying benefits you’re looking forward to are these:
- Achieving much better efficiency
- Reducing costs to meet your current business goals or new goals
Allowing for the fact that there are different types of change in different industries with different priorities, there are still some extra benefits you get when implementing change in your organization. These include:
- Allowing more teams to collaborate during the process, which improves cooperation within your business.
- Improving employee productivity, as the changes allow them to use their time more efficiently.
- Improving the ability of your organization to adapt or respond to external changes more efficiently.
- Providing many insights that you can use to achieve more business goals.
Manage Change Without Stress
Because there are a lot of changes happening already in our private life, it can seem easier to try and keep our business life less chaotic and carry on as usual. However, in this blog post we’ve stressed the importance and benefits of going ahead and managing necessary changes in a non-chaotic way!
If you’re struggling to keep up with internal and external changes, remember that no one has inborn change-management skills. It’s something you develop through learning and constant trial and error. Flex your management muscle until you get it right!
But you don’t have to figure this out on your own. There’s help if you need it. Reach out to those who’ve negotiated significant change before, and you’ll get the results you anticipate!
Contact us today for an independent discussion on how you can manage change in your business in a productive and orderly way.