Managing change has become the norm for small business owners in today’s business environment. Most businesses will go through significant change during their business life-span. As a small business owner or manager, how you respond or handle change can be the difference between success and failure. When faced with change, you need to effectively manage it.
Due to an ongoing evolution in management responsibilities, there has been considerable change management strategies development. Some of the change management models that have historical significance are Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model (which is focused on aligning the vision and mission statements to the change activities, team building strategies, empowering employees to problem solve and make decisions) and the McKinsey 7-S Model (which is focused on aligning strategy, structure, skills, systems, shared values, staff and style with the direction of change).
Over time these models have evolved to include newer change management techniques, such Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma which are productivity and quality programs. These programs enable highly effective, interactive and inclusive change management tactics. In addition to models and programs, consider working with business mentors, coaches, or consultants to help you work through some specific change issues (for example, a merger or acquisitions.
Key Success Factors for Change:
- What’s the catalyst for the change? You need to identify and create awareness of the reason for change; without that level of communication it is very difficult to engage your employees in the process and therefore it will be difficult to move forward.
Some examples: You’ve acquired a new business. You’re facing new, and strong, competitive activity in the marketplace. Your largest customer has gone bankrupt. Your new product is failing in the market place. Your biggest distributor is unhappy with the service you provide.
- What’s the plan for change? Just like a business plan to manage your business and growth, you need an action plan to manage the change and the resistance you are certainly going to encounter. Your plan will also need to identify key risks and how you will handle those risks.
- You need to ensure that your vision statement is still valid. If yes, does it align with the direction of your change management plan? If no, update your vision statement to reflect the new direction and future for the business. Communicate the vision statement to all stakeholders; you need to ensure that everyone knows the direction the business is going.
Managing change successfully means that you need to recognize who can help lead change in your organization. You need constancy and reliability in your leaders (when everything else is changing around you). You also need to involve your employees and other stakeholders in the process as early as possible; engaging them in the change will help you move forward. Keep your focus on the action plan and handle problems using decision making and problem solving techniques. The reason for change must be valid; change can cause stress and upheaval for the people involved in the process.
When you need to manage change, you need to focus on doing it right rather than doing it fast. The culture of your organization will need to adapt, along with the functions, processes and people. Work on building awareness, understanding, acceptance and commitment to and for the change.