How To Manage Change In Your Business
In all areas of life, change is persistent and unavoidable. To think otherwise, to dream of permanence, is quite illogical. Just as the world changes, your business will evolve and with evolution comes varying degrees of transformation: the market could adjust, customers' needs could become different, employees could leave, roles could expand, shrink or disappear completely, even you could choose to become more or less involved in you business. Nothing stays the same forever. And while change can be negatively disruptive, it can also drive growth. These practical principles will help you handle change in your business and get the best out of it.
1. Develop a dynamic culture.
Your employees are your most valuable asset and it is important that they are comfortable while working for you. But there's a difference between being comfortable at work and being too comfortable mentally. The latter breeds a resistance to change and an unwillingness to try new things. Fight that negative ambience by stimulating a dynamic mindset among your staff through role shuffling. Besides preparing them for change, this will also help them develop versatility. To further reinforce this dynamic mindset, use your internal communication channels (including meetings and emails) to constantly remind staff that change is essential for growth in your business.
2. Carry your crew along.
The effects of a change are usually pervasive, spreading through the organisational structure and affecting everyone. Do not for a second think that this isn't true for your business. You're not running a one-man operation, so when there's a change, confront it as a team and leave no one out. Let your staff have a say in how your business deals with changes. They don't have to be responsible for making conclusive decisions but they must be assured that their opinions are relevant and wanted.
When there's a change, whether positive or negative, your staff will be concerned. Why shouldn't they be? They will wonder how they could be affected: what the change means for their role, the work culture and the future of the business among other things. React positively by creating an open channel of communication to answer their inevitable questions directly, hiding nothing. Don't dismiss fears, they'll only grow bigger. As with crisis management, if a situation is bad, let them know how bad it is. Whitewashing facts to paint a good picture of a negative change is a recipe for disaster. Come clean. Even better, come clean and present a practical plan for progress everyone can contribute to.
4. Lead visibly.
As the head of the business, your staff will look to you for guidance and reassurance during a transition. Don't be invisible, calling hush-hush meetings and pulling strings from behind a screen like some kind of undercover puppeteer. Be present and open enough to build trust and convince your staff that you're all in the same boat. Boost their confidence in your business by sharing a vision beyond the present situation, one that will reward loyalty and secure the future. Do this in one-on-one sessions, not just at group meetings. Also, help staff see how their individual efforts lead to the achievement of corporate goals. This will increase their sense of self-worth and relevance to the business.
5. Don't avoid confrontation.
As much as it will be great if everyone adjusts well to a change, that's too much to expect. There will be some opposition, maybe even strong disagreement. And while staff should be free to express their opinions, you don't need the widespread division that could come with having a persisting disagreement with the direction your business has chosen to take. Address such disagreements quickly, directly and in person before they infect more people. If certain staff remain uncooperative after being spoken with, give them the option of finding a place where they'll better fit in. Your business needs harmony to make progress. Make no compromises.
How have you managed change in your business? Post a tip in the comments section below or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be great to hear from you.