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Is Your Small Business Ready For Change?

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The saying runs that if there’s one constant in life, it’s change. And that’s especially true when it comes to running a business. In fact. The very definition of a successful modern company is one that develops a culture of continuous change and improvement. With that in mind, it’s clear that effective change management can make or break your business. In a large corporation, there can be specific resources dedicated to the process, but when it comes to a smaller business, how do you make it work?

Making Change In A Small Business

Change management put simply is the process of taking action to support your business during times of change. It allows you to continue service with the minimum of disruption to customers or clients, even while things are shifting behind the scenes. Taking a systematic approach to both the organisational and the human side of the change process is an approach which can minimise disturbance and unhappiness, so that your core business remains unaffected. This encompasses everything from leading employees through a process of transformation to stabilising systems through business IT support with the aim of smoothing out periods of, say, intense growth or conversely a contraction, as part of your business plan.

Using An Organisational Change Management Approach 

When change for a business combines both a shift on the ‘hard side’ – i.e the technology solutions you use, and the ‘soft side’ or the people, then you have a process often referred to as Organisational Change Management or OCM. OCM comprises five primary success factors. These can be scaled up or down to fit the size of your small business. The first is strong, effective sponsorship from senior leaders – in a small enterprise, this could just mean yourself but it applies equally. You also need buy-in from employees, especially any people managers who have a hand in influencing the culture. You need continuous and targeted communications and also a planned and organised approach. Putting a strong OCM plan in place can directly influence the bottom line of your business. There have even been studies by business think tank McKinsey that show a return on investment of 143 per cent where a strong OCM program was a part of organisational change against only 35 per cent with poor or no OCM. Numbers like that mean planning is absolutely essential.

Finding Success With OCM

The three pillars you need to keep always in mind are planning, communication and buy-in. It’s essential to ensure clarity for all involved – when people don’t feel that they know what is going on, the end result is confusion, panic and possible loss of staff if people choose to jump ship. This can be especially devastating in small businesses where recruitment is often more challenging and represents a proportionately bigger slice of resources. Using clear communication skills will help to manage the process from the outset – explain exactly why you are doing what’s planned and how it will take place. Ensure that everyone’s roles and responsibilities are very clear, and that the reasons for the project are fully accepted. In a small business, this means taking the time to sit down with people and answer their questions. If people believe in the process, it’s half the battle and you’ll find that your company as a whole is much more likely to succeed.

 

About the author

Alice Instone-Brewer

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