To survive in the fast-changing business environment, and keep ahead of competition, every company – big or small needs be constantly evolving. It has to adapt to the changing market, customer tastes, technologies and a host of other things. Bigger organisations tend to have specific teams or departments dedicated to handling change and enforcing it, or hire external consultants. In the case of small businesses there in so scope for a dedicated team, or the resources to hire consultants from outside. It all comes down to the owner or at best a few senior level managers to strategise and implement change.
If you have to implement changes in your small business—be it big or small changes—it can be quite stressful for you and your team. By understanding the process of managing change you can be prepared and even avoid the typical issues from cropping up. This will greatly help in making the transition a lot smoother. According to the Change Management Learning Centre, the process for managing change is a three-stage process: preparation, managing and reinforcing.
The following should serve as a guide in managing change:
1. Purpose – What is the purpose of implementing change? What are you trying to accomplish and what are the benefits for your business? These questions need to be answered and understood thoroughly. This first step is fundamental as it provides a foundation for further action.
2.Time Frame – Managing change is an ongoing process. It is not as simple as planning the change, implementing it and then enforcing the change with yourself and your employees. It is human nature to be slightly afraid of change, so you need to prepare yourself and your employees as far in advance as possible. Once you start to implement the change, you need to continue to monitor that the employees are abiding by the new company policies and the effectiveness of the change. As you assess the change, you also need to be flexible in knowing that you may have to refine the changes to make it better continually.
3.Buy-in From All Levels – Once you are convinced of the need for change, you then have to get buy-in from all levels of your business. Typically, buy-in starts at the top and trickles down to the bottom of the organization, or across the organization, depending on the hierarchy of your business. This is why understanding the reason for the change and how it benefits the business is imperative. Convincing other people in your business to accept the change is so much easier when you believe in it and can persuade other people to see the benefits.
4.Expert Insight – Peter Drucker is a change management expert and the author of “The New Society of Organizations.” Drucker states that knowledge is the key to running a competitive business. Acquiring knowledge requires the employees in the business to constantly upgrade their skills. He also says managing the change process requires all workers to be on board to make the changes that can bring the business to a more productive level and ultimately give the company a competitive edge.
5.Training and Inclusion – It’s important that appropriate training be given to employees to ensure the implementation of change is effective. If necessary professionals from outside should be hired to impart the requisite skills. Your employees can evolve and be an effective part of the change only if they have the required knowledge, tools and skills.
The whole process of change – planning, implementing, enforcing and monitoring; can be managed efficiently when done right.