How to Transform Change Management into a Positive Experience for Your Employees

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“Change Management” has become a sensitive word for many people. Changing your business environment and processes starts with your employees and unless they are comfortable with a new direction, the effectiveness and outcome of your changes will be in jeopardy. Your business systems need to adapt to keep pace with your environment, your product evolution, and ultimately, your growth.

Continuous improvement is an essential attribute to a systems based business. Change is inevitable and you can transform the culture of your business to be highly responsive to it.

1.       Change becomes permanent through socialization

Nurturing a “change culture” within your organization means that change will become a normal part of the daily actions of your employees.

2.       Involve employees in the process of change

Employees should take a leading role in developing the changes in the systems they use. Incorporating the best of their ideas into the process will ensure they are comfortable with new expectations

3.       Time your changes carefully

Making changes in the middle of large projects will create more stress than if they were made during a less active period.

4.       Teach employees the benefits of change

Positive changes are good for everyone in the business, though it may be hard to stray from the status quo. If the benefits are made clear to your employees they will be much more receptive to the process of change.

5.       Encourage employees to initiate change

Once systems are in place, your employees must become responsible for improving them.

Change Management is a Drive to Continuous Improvement

In order to remain competitive your business must change and your employees play a key role in the transformation. By empowering employees to spot issues and report or even fix problems as they appear, you can spend more time planning for future growth and less time managing issues.

Escalation of Commitment – don’t be afraid to start again.

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Start again.

Easier said than done.

I was painting a room in my house and the colour was somewhere between mustard and green pea baby food.

It had looked ok on the 2″ paint chip, but was not looking so good on the wall.

However…given the 2 hours of labour already invested and the investment in the paint, I convinced myself that it looked ok.

My wife in a moment of pity also agreed that it looked ok and so I invested 5 more hours in painting the entire room.

When I was done I knew it looked bad, but aimed to convince myself otherwise.

My wife knew it looked bad, but also knew I was a little stubborn about buying paint twice so she ‘thought she could live with it’.

We had escalated our commitment.

Even though the project was doomed for failure, we convinced ourselves it would be ok and that conviction grew with time.

It wasn’t ok.

Several weeks later I called in a painting crew, changed the colour and spent the money to fix the problem.

Would it have been easier to change course early on?

Yes.

Would it have been a better decision to change course early on?

Yes.

It is one of the hardest things to do in our businesses.

Rip it up and start again.  These are the exact words from a recent Richard Branson post which echo the same sentiments.

We must be willing to change course.

We must be willing to say the idea we had fully supported needs to be changed.

The earlier we can make that decision the better.

Avoid the escalation of commitment!

 

The alarm has sounded. You need to cut costs.

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When a business is in trouble and needs to cut costs, careful consideration is important. Often times, good managers use short term thinking that can cut a budget’s nose but spite a business’s face. Many business owners get the cutting knife and do more of a hack job then applying a sense of purpose and goals based strategy to the cuts.

There is no one magic solution to easily reducing costs and if that were the case, it would have been obvious and performed already.

Here are some practical tips for cost cutting without creating massive disruption in your business:

Consolidation of resources as a strategy

Training sessions, celebrations and travel are all areas where savings can be readily found with some pre-planning.  Can we use technology (such as go-to-meeting) to reduce travel?  Can we combine trips and meet two or three customers on the same trip?  It sounds so simple, but many times is overlooked.

Companies sometimes target activities that may not immediately appear value added. Celebrations may not seem important but play a critical role in creating company culture. Combining certain functions like a retirement dinner and staff service awards into a stand up reception with appropriate catering can save a lot of money and improve human connection within your organization.  Think combination and consolidation as a strategy!

Personnel as a strategy

Your job as a manager and owner, according to Jim Collins, is to get the right people on the bus, in the right seats and doing the right job.  There are usually several situations that are known by managers to be an issue but haven’t been acted on because of various barriers.  Your job is to determine if the barrier to action is real and what can be done even before job elimination.

Using systems like process mapping is extremely effective in helping see how waste can be eliminated.  While it may be the case that there is not enough work, often times efficiency and resources assigned to a task can be better arranged.  This review allows you to enact a hiring freeze instead of replacing positions all the while improving performance, morale and the bottom line.

Your business strategy and plan

Now is the perfect opportunity to make sure that your business activities align with your business’ plan and goals. Review the activities and associated expenses that are not propelling your business down the path that you have laid out for success. If they can be easily eliminated their resources can be invested in activities that are aligned with your growth plan.

Harvard Business Review has an excellent article on cost savings.  The authors suggest that managers may need to find 10 different methods for cost savings.

Exercise Major Caution

Don’t make budget cuts to spite poorly performing areas of the business.  It can seem like a good idea at the time, but random cutting will have devastating longer term impacts.

When tightening the budget, marketing, staff training, management skill investment and celebrations are all areas that managers and owners must proceed to consider with high amounts of caution.  We have seen management teams make budget cuts to the marketing department in an effort to avoid “bad things” from happening only to cripple the company’s sales down the road.

Be careful how you cut. Be creative how you cut.

Use this process as an opportunity to work with your team and not against them.

Ultimately, this will make your entire organization more successful.

Eggs, baskets and economic diversity

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Rachel Mendleson has put together an excellent article for the Huffington Post.

Of note is Canada’s shift towards oil, gas and mining as a key driver of the economy.

The chart below (via Huffington) shows the decline of manufacturing as a percent of GDP and the increase of the natural resource sector over an 11 year period.

So is this a bad thing?

Too many eggs in one basket?

Doom and gloom?

No.

Business is simply going where Business goes.

As the US continues it’s economic sputter, China has become a source of real opportunity.

Working with private business across the world, we see this situation Canada faces reflected in individual businesses again and again.  Do I follow the money trail?  Do I stay with what has brought us this far?

The answer is usually a diversified approach.

Completely abandoning a product or even a strategic direction may make sense in some cases, but many times a mixed approach of retaining a company’s history, customer base and core while pursuing a new opportunity is the best recipe.

To read more about Canada’s shifting direction read the full article from the Huffinton Post here.

To analyze your own business strength take the Wardell Business Strength Test. (free, online and private)

 

 

 

Sharing Wardell Insights Through Our New Blog

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