8 keys to success for business change
Posted on 11th March 2022
To be competitive, businesses need to be on the look out for new and better ways to do things all the time. Change can cover everything from the launch of a new product or service through to efficiency savings or redundancies. It can include relocations, mergers or new recruits.
Successful changes can give the whole business a boost. There's a secret weapon that can make all the difference...
Change fatigue’ is common in many businesses so it’s important not to treat every change in the same way. Be clear when changes are significant and when they can be simplified and carefully managed to minimise their impact. The explain what's happening clearly and simply. It really is as simple at that.
What can possibly go wrong…
If change isn’t well managed and well communicated, you could have some unhappy staff and customers. Some employees might leave and some clients might go elsewhere.
At worst, you could experience something like the recent struggles at Ryanair when they tried to introduce a new leave policy for pilots. You could face irreparable damage to your hard-earned reputation, the threat of (or actual) industrial action and coordinated non-cooperation from your staff, customers leaving in droves and huge financial losses.
In a survey carried our by Statista almost 70% of respondents said effective communications was the most important factor in successful change management.
Here are eight things you can do to significantly improve the process of change in your business. They will help whether staff, customers or others, such as suppliers, are affected.
Eight keys to business change success
1. Change must be led – so it must be clear who is responsible and why. That means you need a spokesperson for all the important information to be shared and they must be willing to be personally accountable.
2. Avoid confusion – make sure the messages are consistent and don’t let too many people deliver them.
3. Listen to what people have to say – this is realy important; talk with key people to get a good all-round view of what issues and concerns might arise. Be sure to address these points in your communications.
4. Explain – if there’s a good and clear reason for change people will be willing to listen to the explanation, even if they don’t like what’s being said. Take time to make it clear and simple and be as specific as possible. If information is vague people will fill in the blanks for themselves and it will probably be far worse than anything you might have imagined.
5. Describe who will benefit and why – some messages can be hard to deliver, but people who are personally affected will find it harder to be critical if others are going to benefit.
6. Make consultation effective – do not say there will be consultation if decisions have already been made and people's comments can’t make any difference. If you are going to consult with people who are affected, be very clear about what can be changed by the consultation and how. Be sure you can and will follow it through.
7. Consider your timing – there might be excellent business reasons for specific actions, but consider their impact carefully. For example, it’s rarely a good idea to announce changes immediately before people are likely to be on holiday or at Christmas. This will increase their anxiety that things will happen while they are away. Plan and phase any announcements to make sure that the right people hear any news in the right order.
8. Think about how to deliver information – for people unaffected by change a general email or personal letter might be appropriate. For other people face-to-face meetings, documents, drop-in sessions, videos or webinars could be important.
When people feel that they don’t have a say, they will find the process much harder to accept, so engage with people wherever possible.
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