There are not many things in business that are certain but one of them is change! One of the key skills today’s leaders need is the ability to lead their businesses and teams through change. If you are the business owner or a senior leader then the reality is a big part of your job is about looking ahead to see what customers might want in the future and building organisational capability to enable you to be able to deliver, setting a course of change along the way.
Change is a constant in business and today we focus on some tips and tools to help you ride the wave of change with ease.
Where does change come from?
Change results from both internal and external factors. Internal factors are things like making improvements to processes, a new leader or a change of business direction. Often the nature of these things allow for planning and are driven by you as the leader. SWOT analysis is a great tool to help you identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for your business and plan change to address or capitalise on these.
External factors are often things that are out of your control, which you have to respond to or plan to address. Doing an external scan using a technique such as PESTLE is a valuable way of anticipating what might be on the horizon. PESTLE stands for:
POLITICAL: the political landscape has a direct impact on your business. Have you started to consider the possible impact of Brexit? How would a potential change of government in the coming years affect you (remember even without anything drastic happening there will be a general election every 5 years).
ECONOMICAL: How did yesterdays budget impact you? Do you use foreign exchange and how can fluctuating markets impact you? How will any change in inflation rates impact you?
SOCIAL: How does the changing demographics of the workforce impact you? As more people seek work-life balance and flexible working, how you can embrace this to attract talent? Do you have the right skills in your business for what you will need to deliver in 12 months and beyond?
TECHNOLOGICAL: How will changes to technology impact you? What advancements are on the horizon in your sector? How will your customers want to interact and buy from you in the future and are you ready for that?
LEGAL: What legislation changes are likely to impact you? How did you cope with GDPR for example? What employment changes are coming and are you ready for them?
ENVIRONMENTAL: What is your environmental policy? What will be required of you in the future?
Sometimes you can plan for change and sometimes you just have to react to it but either way, you need to be clear on the change you are implementing and have a focused approach. Communication is even more important in times of change (and often the thing that is not done as well as it could be). Sometimes this even means communicating there is nothing to communicate!
John Kotter is considered a leading voice in change management theory and he developed an 8 step model:
- Create a sense of urgency (the WHY, if you cannot then don’t do it)
- Build a guiding team (the core team who will lead and develop the change agenda)
- Develop the vision (how will it be at the end of the process)
- Communicate for buy-in (and support your team through it, the Kubler-Ross change curve is useful for understanding the emotions associated with change)
- Empower action
- Create short-term wins (and communicate and celebrate them)
- Don’t let up
- Make it stick.
If you would like any support managing change in your business please contact us, this is a specialist area we can offer both consultancy and training support in.