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Managing change (Business improvement 3/3)



You cannot stop time and therefore change is inevitable as situations change. People’s reaction to different changes, range from between fully resisting to fully embracing. With so many potential reactions and the inability of a business to exist in a bubble which prevents any impact from external sources, the outcomes of change are complex.

The last thing most business owners want is uncertainty, so understanding how to manage change is an important management skill. There have been volumes written about it, so this blog is a pointer to the types of change one might come across and some of the factors influencing how you can manage it.

Standing back and thinking about the types of change is a good starting point. Three types surface. 

  • Planned change, which can be a large or small change, which takes place over a long or a short period.
  • Unplanned, which can be expected as it is an identified risk, or it can be unexpected as it’s from an unknown disrupting factor. 
  • Emergent changes, these tend to creep up on you if, you do not have a regular review process which can identify trends. They are not as sudden as an unplanned one.

If there is a proper management system in place which reviews the business with enough granularity on a regular basis e.g. ISO 9001, and in the management system there is a system for assessing risks, then the chances of having to deal with an unexpected change are considerably reduced. However, if there is not a proactive approach, and acceptance, that business must constantly change to maintain its competitive edge in the market place then a business is likely to require radical changes at some time.

The type of leadership in each situation is very different. Where leaders and the owners of businesses accepted that change must occur, and promote a learning and innovative culture, then the staff will embrace the benefits of planned change. However, if the response to change by the leaders is slow, or reluctant, then implementing change is often reflected in the speed of adoption by the staff. This invariably leads to a decline by the business which can range from slow to rapid. Ultimately a business in decline will require a very direct approach, or a change of leadership to address the issue and prevent the business failing.

Whilst implementing change might seem painful, it is lot easier to carry out lots of small changes than have to turn a business around. Get into the habit of making planned changes and preparing scenarios for unplanned ones. Face up to difficult conversations as soon as they are needed, it will set the tone for the business and staff appreciate issues being dealt with and not festering.

If you need to reset how you manage change. Get in touch with me, for a no obligation discussion about managing change.