Is it time to drive change? You understand your business well – and so you should, after all this time. Of course you know intimately the products and services you provide. You understand the inputs, throughputs and outputs.
You’ve hired a good team, give or take some mishaps along the way. Still you do too much yourself, but after all, the buck stops with you, doesn’t it? And you owe too much money, but doesn’t everyone? There are good months and those that have your head in your hands. Overall though, your dream is slowly coming true; a lot of things you didn’t expect, but every day is busy and exciting; and there is no HR performance review process telling you that you were good, but not quite good enough.
Yet Should You Plan To Drive Change?
You have a recurring voice in your head from an old uncle who also ran a business: “If you’re not changing, son, you’re going backwards!” He may not have put it quite as politely as that. Something too about sharks needing to keep moving. Lots of people say this now (without the swearing), but you remember him saying it the best. You sometimes kid yourself, but you realise that in this fast-changing world your business is not changing, or not enough. It is reacting to what is happening on a daily or monthly basis, but it is not changing.
Think back to when you started – remember all that advice about working ON your business and not just IN it?
Are you looking at the external factors in your market and thinking about what is happening in the long term?
Do your internal systems and processes keep up with the workload?
Changes are needed. And you have to make them and make them quickly. But so many changes fail! You hear so many war stories about budgets being blown to bits.
So how do you go about it? What are some proven strategies to help you make these changes, and make them successfully?
STRATEGY 1: FOCUS
Trap: Trying to manage everything yourself
Solution: Someone needs to be focused on the changes.
You may already have someone in your business that you can allocate a number of days per week concentrating solely on driving change, or maybe you could use a little external help. Either way, do not try to manage this yourself or fit it into your staff’s current workload while everyone is also trying to run the business! You’ll start off with big plans and raise everyone’s hopes and expectations, including your own. Then you’ll fall in a heap and ruin the credibility of any change programme you try to implement in the future.
STRATEGY 2: MANAGE THE CHANGE LIKE A PROJECT
Trap: Making changes organically, without a structured plan and accountability
Solution: A structured approach and accountability are necessary to drive change well.
Yes, implementing change is hard. And it’s going to be harder than you think it’s going to be.
A structured approach to outline what need to be done, by whom and when is invaluable in making it happen. Staff (and vendors) need to be held accountable for doing things when they said they would. Otherwise things will meander along and your change will become one of those war stories that you have heard about. The person in (1) above needs to track what is happening and what is not happening.
STRATEGY 3: UNDERSTAND ALL THE IMPACTS
Trap: The “Pollyanna” effect – overstating benefits, understating costs
Solution: A business impact analysis
We have an unavoidable tendency, once we have made the decision to drive change, to overstate the benefits and understate the downsides of a change. It’s great to be positive but for the change to be successful you need to deal with all the impacts, not only the good ones! Do a business impact analysis. It describes (at the least):
- the current state, and the future state,
- what is changing and what is not changing,
- who it affects
- and when it will be ‘live’.
The process of doing this will really hit home the size and scope of what you are trying to achieve.
STRATEGY 4: Bring your people with you
Trap: Assuming everyone knows what the changes are all about and is already ‘on board’
Solution: Don’t assume. Communicate!
You know that the changes are the right thing for the business. You know it in your heart and, no matter what the obstacles, you are committed to making them happen. How have you gone about telling others about this? Have you openly gone through the change and what it will mean to your staff and even your customers? Have they ‘bought in’ to the changes or are there more corridor whispers and eye-rolls than ice-creams in summer?
Your change will not be successful if you don’t have the buy-in from your staff. Not everyone will be sold, but you need to have a majority of people that are on board. Don’t assume that just because you are the boss everyone will agree with you and get on with it. Get out of your office and communicate, communicate, communicate.
Ready To Drive Change?
Adopting these clear strategies will greatly increase your chances of making change happen in your business and reaping the reward.
My clients certainly appreciate the strategies, tools and techniques that our expertise in change management bring. You need to grow your business? Before you launch your change programme, spend time thinking about
- project management,
- business impact and
- communicating with your people.
I guarantee it will make a huge difference to your chances of success.
To know more, contact Craig.