I have witnessed in my consulting travels numerous businesses that require an objective third party opinion about their business. Whether it is my help they seek or a colleagues, the one constant is that businesses are a living breathing thing that continue to evolve.
In the course of running or managing your business you might experience this nagging sense that things just aren’t the same as they used to be. Your customer needs are different or your staff needs are different or both. New competitors enter the marketplace (or exit) or there might be a shift in your market that is changing the demand for your product or service (remember blockbuster?). This may also be more than just a feeling. Your financial statement might show it as well!
In my experience the impetus for change is always one thing that owners and managers alike resist more than the people that work for them because they fear that their people will not be in favor of change in their working environment. It has been proven however that the majority of people that are working in the company see the need for change long before ownership did. Of course there will always be some people that are resistant to change in the organization and that has to be managed but the biggest resistors are typically the owners or managers themselves.
I just read a fantastic column on change management by Keith Ferazzi of The Harvard Business Review and he likened change management to the 12-step program in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other addictions programs. The approach that change management experts take is similar to the approach in a few of the following ways:
1. You have to admit you have a problem:
Yes, this is true. The hardest thing for a business is bringing itself to a realisation that there is a need for something to change or things will only get worse.
2. Peer support:
Of course you need buy in from your team when undertaking a change. Having a group of people that also desire change in your organization provides encouragement and support when times are challenging during the change process.
3. Celebrate small wins:
You can’t expect that your organization will transform overnight. There will be setbacks and stumbling blocks. Celebrate each day, week and month that you make progress.
Change is hard and shouldn’t be taken lightly. What might seem easy for one person to adapt to change might be exceedingly difficult for someone else. It is up to leadership to ensure that change is managed effectively so that you don’t lose any good people in the process.
Remember that change for the sake of change isn’t the answer but resisting change because you think it will cause your staff or customers to leave isn’t either. If this is the case then they most likely have already left, you just haven’t noticed it yet.