Revisiting the basics that small business owners often overlook will bring about the need to change your organization.
Change can be daunting. But, it doesn't have to be daunting if done as part of a disciplined process. In this post we look at how to manage change in four steps. It is a process that will sharpen your focus and give you a repeatable methodology for continuing to fine tune your business efforts. The four steps are:
Empowering Others to Act on the Vision
- Getting rid of obstacles to change
- Changing systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision.
- Encouraging risk taking and non-traditional ideas, activities and actions.
Planning for and Creating Short Term Wins
- Planning for visible performance improvements
- Creating those improvements
- Recognizing and rewarding employees involved in the improvements.
Consolidating Improvements and Producing Still More Change
- Changing systems, structures and policies that don't fit the Vision
- Hiring, promoting and developing employees who can implement the Vision.
- Recharging the process with new projects and themes.
Institutionalizing New Approaches
- Articulating the connections between the new behaviors and new successes
- Creating the means to ensure leadership development and succession.
These four steps, if properly executed will allow you, as an owner, to change your organization not only in an orderly and non-disruptive way but in a way that willingly involves those most affected by change – the people who work for you. However there are some assumptions we need to visit before tackling these four steps:
Assumption 1: You have established a sense of urgency regarding your small business vision and the need to change your organization.
Assumption 2: In forming your guiding group you have included participants from all levels of your organization . . . not just managers and executives but line staff too . . . to gain credibility throughout the organization.
Assumption 3: You have created that vision AND the strategies to be used to achieve it.
Assumption 4: You have widely communicated the Vision and the strategies to be used to ALL stakeholders both internal and external, such as business consultants, and have gained their buy-in.
Now, to add some clarity, let's go back and look at some specific guidance on how to manage change, following the four-step process:
Getting rid of obstacles- Unfortunately almost every organization has a "Bill"... someone who has been there forever, is resistant to change and often starts his objections with, "But we've always done it this way …." If you have a "Bill" in your organization it may be time to retire him or re-assign him as difficult as it may be.
Encouraging risk taking and non-traditional ideas etc.- If the only "authority" any given employee has is the ability to say "No" (not yes) you be absolutely certain that employee will use it often and most likely with the folks you don't want to alienate... you customers. Broaden your employees' authority and encourage them to seek creative ways to solve problems. Then trust them to do it.
Planning for Short Term Wins
Planning for visible performance improvements- identify those areas that need qualitative and quantitative improvements then plan for empowering employees to create the solutions.
Recognize and reward employees involved in creating and implementing qualitative and quantitative improvements.
Consolidating Improvements and Producing Still More Changes
Use the increased credibility gained with the staff to change systems, structures and policies that don't fit the Vision and the called for strategies and tactics.
Hire, promote and develop only those employees that can willingly help to implement the Vision
Keep the process ongoing by initiating new projects and themes, all of which are continually measured against the Vision.
Institutionalizing New Approaches
Point out the connection between the new behaviors and new successes then reward those responsible.
Appoint someone to be the plan "sponsor and guardian" whose responsibility it will be to keep the process circular and repeatable as well as monitoring the measurements of success.
This last point may be the key to how to manage change successfully. Creating a Vision, sharing it and implementing a single series of changes then putting the plan on the shelf never to be visited again, will guarantee that your company will fall back on previous habits and lose their enthusiasm for fine tuning processes and making your business more competitive and more successful.