Plan for change
Each year there are some that review their performance of the last 12 months and prepare themselves for what they hope and want to achieve in the future. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made that are designed to alter the status quo. These could be to change things up or to downsize, depending on your circumstances. Either way, change in itself is often disruptive to both internal and external stakeholders of the business.
Properly managing change becomes an important ingredient into making it happen. Ideally making changes with as little disruption to normal business is important but not always possible. It therefore pays to take a step back and understand all the moving parts associated with a change before trying to make it happen.
I have a couple of clients who are both planning to make significant changes to their businesses, one is downsizing to better position the business to cope with a tightening of their market sector, while the other is looking for larger premises to better position themselves to manage a 5 year growth plan. In both cases the impact on the business, its staff and customers will be unsettling so they need to prepare for that as part of the changes they want to make.
So here are some tips and pointers I offered them that should be considered when introducing changes to your business.
- Manage the change as a project with actions and milestones.
- Establish a separate budget for the project – manage this as well as the project itself.
- Time is often your enemy so break tasks down to manageable chunks, assign responsibility and set deadlines.
- Build in a realistic contingency for time, costs and resources.
- Make sure you properly empower people responsible for delivery.
- Communicate your expectations and progress to all stakeholders.
- Be open and flexible in your response to challenges and road blocks, all with the big picture in mind.
- Bring in additional resources to deal with the extra tasks and responsibilities – don’t overload existing staff for too long.
- Make sure progress is constantly monitored and reviewed and issues are addressed quickly.
- Factor in the disruption to normal business and the impact this has on staff, clients and outside stakeholders.
- And finally, reward those that made it happen and celebrate the success of the project when completed.
Change within a business is always disruptive and stressful to owners and staff alike. Some people cope better than others which is why constant communication about what, where how and why it’s happening is important to alleviate some of those fears.
Businesses like those described above are faced with challenges every day and sometimes those day to day “fire fights” lead to changing the way you operate and requires a bit more thought and commitment to make things better. Use the tips above and you will go along way to making the changes you need with as little impact on normal business.
Remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you know you need to change things but don’t know how.