How to deliver successful business change in 7 steps
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Change management is an integral part of business development that allows companies to grow and increase revenue. Through introducing change, businesses can improve their processes, adjust their strategies or maximise the potential of their workforce. Understanding how change affects business initiatives can help you develop strong business management skills to use to support your employer. In this article, we discuss business change, explain why one might want to implement it and explain how to develop an effective change management strategy in seven simple steps.
What is business change?
The term 'business change' refers to a change that impacts a project, initiative, company or solution that the company is introducing. Most changes that businesses choose to implement are processes, which means that they consist of a series of actions that companies take to achieve a goal. There are two common types of change within organisations:
Adaptive changes are typically small, graduate changes that help companies develop or update their products, processes or workflows. Changes of this type typically happen over time and help organisations permanently impact their organisational strategies. An example of an adaptive change is hiring a new employee to implement a work-from-home policy as the company transitions to a remote-first company. In this example, the change also helps the organisation attract more candidates from different locations.
Transformational changes are usually larger and more complex changes. In many cases, they're sudden changes that allow companies to quickly depart from a strategy or process that's no longer usable or even harmful for the organisation. Transformational change is also common within rapidly growing companies, for example, ones that decide to launch a new product or expand internationally.
Why think about implementing a change in a business?
Change is an effective business tool that companies use to tackle different situations, issues or opportunities. Here are some of the most common reasons why businesses choose organisational change:
Closing performance gaps
Businesses that use change management often do it to close any performance gaps. A performance gap occurs when there's a difference in the performance of the current situation and the situation that the company wants to achieve. Performance gaps are common within organisations of all sizes. An example of a gap is when one sales representative fails to meet their monthly sales targets while others on their team exceed them. To effectively close a performance gap, it's necessary for companies to take action in understanding the current performance and clearly defining each performance area they want to improve.
Implementing new technology
Whenever a company decides to implement new technology or upgrade their equipment, this process is also a form of organisational change. Identifying the need for new technology allows businesses to welcome more efficient and sustainable performance methods. As a result, companies can also address changes that happen on the market and maintain the organisation's position within it.
Dealing with crisis
In some instances, the factor that makes organisations change is an external crisis. For example, this can be a result of a financial crisis or a significant world event that impacts how the public views certain industries. Whenever companies are experiencing serious crises, implementing effective change management strategies is their attempt to survive.
Taking advantage of business opportunities
Closely monitoring any business opportunities that arise is standard practice for any company that operates in a competitive industry. Identifying and reacting to these opportunities often requires that they implement adaptive and transformative changes to how they operate. By quickly reacting to opportunities, companies can strengthen their market share and increase their competitiveness.
Reacting to mergers and acquisitions
In business, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are processes that result in two companies combining their efforts to create one, more powerful organisation. In many instances, it's a sudden process that forces a change in various areas of these companies. To make sure the change doesn't negatively affect employees, it's often necessary for companies to implement structural changes. For example, through providing additional training to employees and expanding their business offering, companies can avoid terminating employees.
How to deliver successful business change
Knowing how to approach implementing successful changes in a business is a vital ability that helps you support your employer as they continue improving how their company operates. It's also an important skill to have when you're looking for a job, as it may help you impress a hiring manager during a job interview. To learn how to deliver change through developing effective change management strategies, follow these steps:
1. Define the change
The first step to a successful organisational change is to acknowledge and understand a business's necessity for change. Knowing how to effectively approach planning and analysing a business vision is essential for creating an effective change management strategy. During this first stage of a change, it's also necessary to make sure all organisational leaders, including key stakeholders, are aware of the situation and can contribute to the solution with their expertise and ideas.
2. Determine impacts of the change
Once the company defines the change that it wants to implement, it's critical that the people responsible for this process take the necessary steps to determine the impacts that the change is likely to bring. To bring change impact into focus, it's vital to look beyond the enterprise level of an organisation. This helps with making sure that all people that make up that company can benefit from the change that's about to take place. Here are the most important aspects to take into consideration when visualising change:
mindsets and beliefs
3. Develop a communication strategy
Even if a company has an effective communication strategy, it's necessary that the project board and executives develop new communication channels through which the organisation can share information about the change taking place. Effective change management communication increases any company's chances of implementing a successful change. It also makes it possible for employees working on all levels to prepare for the change, for example, by developing new habits or changing their work processes.
When communicating change, it's vital that you use specific measures and share them as early as possible. To make everyone aware of the different phases of a change, you can also use multiple communication channels, such as company newsletters, in-person meetings and blog articles. Remember that you may encounter some acts of resistance, for example, in a form of emotional reactions that people have towards the change you're communicating to them.
4. Assign resources
If you expect the change to affect more people within the organisation, remember to give them enough time to prepare. You can also simplify the process by reallocating or assigning additional resources to people. For example, you can consider providing additional training to employees who the company expects to take on additional responsibilities because of the change taking place. Depending on the outcomes you want to achieve, this can come in a form of face-to-face training or even on-the-job mentoring.
5. Remember about the support structure
By implementing a support structure within the organisation, you can provide team members with emotional support. This support allows them to practically adjust to their new work environment. To help people navigate the change, the company can offer them counselling.
6. Monitor the implementation of a change
Once your team clearly defines all structures and goals that the company expects to achieve through a change, it's typically time to start implementing it. Remember to measure and document the business impact of the change throughout the process. If you're implementing a long-term plan, you can use this data to create informative reports that you can share with your team, leaders or key stakeholders of the company. This way, you can maintain their trust and make sure no issues arise during the process.
7. Analyse the change
Once the change you've been implementing is complete, it's vital that you think about its stages and analyse them. Consider paying attention to the specific actions and strategies that helped you achieve the desired goals. Creating a comprehensive report based on that experience can help the organisation streamline its future organisational changes. It can also serve as a guide for other company employees as they continue adjusting to the new reality.
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