Change is critical to a business to enable it to evolve and grow – and to keep up with the times. Remember Blockbuster, Kodak, HMV and BlackBerry? Famous examples of businesses that failed to modernise and met with extinction.
From bigger premises, new clients and IT upgrades, to a change in leadership, or even installing new data capture technology, business transformation is constant and varied.
But how do you communicate that change to your staff and key stakeholders? How do you manage the process of change itself? This is where change management comes in.
When carefully considered and handled correctly, change management optimises business operations leading to a smooth transition with fewer glitches. This article details six techniques to get change management right to optimise business operations.
- Get Leadership on Board
Any large business change needs senior management buy-in.
Your department might be 100% on board with a proposal to upgrade the technology you use. You know it will significantly reduce the time your team spends on repetitive admin tasks, digitalise costly paper-based reporting and boost productivity with simplified workflows.
However, does the leadership team know this? The first step in any change management programme is to ensure senior management is briefed thoroughly on the high-level benefits to the business.
- Sell the Positives
This might sound obvious, but it is important to focus on the positive outcomes of any business change.
In the short term, there might be additional work involved to make a change happen which pulls focus away from core business activities. There could also be a few issues that need solving, additional staff training required or an investment in new hardware.
However, in the long term, the change will ensure your business thrives. Positives could include a reduction in administration time, more tenders won, improved efficiency, a boost in profits, happier staff or more satisfied clients.
Often, these positives are tangible and can be measured. Powerful phrasing helps deliver an impactful message. Be sure to:
- Focus on the problems that leaders hear or experience often
- Highlight benefits (such as time saved) in measurable terms (like hours and days)
- Be sure to include a commercial angle in your reasoning
By implementing this new data capture, we can understand at a click of a button the precise status of every job. This will save XXX minutes per day, XXX hours per week and XXX days per year as we’ll no longer need to manually chase team members via phone, email or face-to-face meetings for status updates. It will happen instantly as the data is uploaded in real time.
- Make the Process Painless
Every change management project needs a plan.
You wouldn’t set off on a long car journey to an unknown place without first checking which roads you needed to take, and in which order. You’d also probably see how long it was going to take you and work backwards to make sure you arrive on time. The same is true for implementing large-scale change in your business operations.
A project plan will include detailed tasks, the order in which they need to be completed, the deadline and who is owning each. It will also take into consideration how long each action will take and the expected date of completion.
All eventualities should be brainstormed and prepared for in advance, you can also include escalation procedures in case of emergencies, as well as contingency strategies if tasks are completed faster or slower than predicted.
This thorough planning will make the change process as painless as possible. If you prepare for potential bumps in the road, then they won’t be as stressful or insurmountable when they arrive.
- Pick the Right Provider
If your business change requires working with third-party providers, do your research to procure the perfect partner.
You might be looking for a service or product that can be purchased off-the-shelf. There could be many companies that supply that specific type of service or product and you can easily compare functionality, check prices and organise free trials.
However, if you run a niche business and need a tailored solution, this procurement process is likely to be more complex.
Whatever you need from an external supplier, spending time and effort on finding the most appropriate, reliable and cost-effective partner will pay dividends in the long-run.
Compare suppliers by reviewing the following:
- Value for money
- Financial security
- A partnership approach
- Strong customer service with clear communication
- Streamline and Join Up Processes
When implementing change in one specific area of your business, it’s important to identify other areas of the business the change might also benefit.
Why? Streamlining and joining up processes across the business will improve productivity and in turn, boost profits.
You might be installing a new piece of software that will hugely benefit the sales team, but can it also be integrated into the finance team’s accounting software and support automatic data sharing?
Collaborate across departments and teams to pinpoint if there are ways to connect workflows or integrate tasks and you’ll enable staff to work more efficiently.
- Engage Staff
Your staff are your most important asset, and it’s important to keep them fully engaged with the transformation that is happening in the business.
Many people are reluctant to change. This could be due to a fear of the unknown, confusion about what is happening or apathy to upskilling.
Communicate clearly and regularly about how the business is evolving, the reasons why and the future benefits of that change. Then get into the specifics about how that change will impact each department, team, or even individual if the change is that granular.
Focus on selling the positives (as above) and benefits that are pertinent to your staff. Bring them on the change journey with you so that they are fully informed of the process, aware of any impact to them personally, and understand when everything will happen.
A good rule of thumb when communicating internally is to focus on explaining the five Ws: who, what, where, when and why. Be honest and straightforward, but ensure a balance – avoid oversharing or any information that might cause alarm.
Optimise Your Business Operations with Effective Change Management
Progressing with a sizable change to your business is a big decision and often a significant undertaking. Ensure the change goes smoothly by managing it effectively.
Doublezero has assisted organisations to move and upgrade systems, and supported businesses with change management. If you’d like further information, please contact us.