The need for organisational change of some kind is inevitable from time to time in any small business, whether it’s a redundancy process, change to terms and conditions, implementing hybrid working or introducing new technology. Here are five key things you should consider before starting a process of change with your team.
1. Why the need for change?
Considering the business reason is essential (or whether there actually is a business reason at all). Are managers asking for the change, if so why? Are there commercial drivers or client requests involved? What problem is the change being expected to solve? What do you want it to achieve? Are there alternative ways to achieve the same result?
Change can be disruptive and costly, so if you don’t have a clear genuine business need to implement it, it may be better to avoid it altogether. If you do have a good business reason clearly identified and articulated, that will help enormously in gaining buy-in from employees and managers.
2. How will the change affect the business as a whole?
Consider how the change you want to make will impact the overall activities of the business, from commercial operational activities to business management. It may have a positive impact in terms of achieving your desired outcome or solving a particular problem, but it might have knock-on effects elsewhere that need to be considered and factored in.
3. How will the change affect employees?
Resistance from staff is the most common reason for a change failing, so identifying early on how people will be affected, both in practical and also emotional ways, is crucial to success. Think about what difference the change will make and consider how they are likely to react. What questions are they likely to have, and what aspects of the change are most likely to concern them?
In a small business you are likely to know everyone and should be able to identify concerns and reactions pretty accurately, helping you head things off at the pass by being prepared with answers for anticipated questions or reassurance about expected concerns.
4. What are the cost implications?
Costs could involve direct costs such as new technology, professional advice, and redundancy payments, as well as indirect costs including management time away from the business and lost productivity during an unsettling period. Some of these are easier to identify than others, but they should be factored in as far as possible when balancing out the commercial benefits.
Identifying that there will be a return on investment in change is great, and seeing the level of costs involved can motivate you to plan and communicate well and therefore minimise the cost implications in terms of legal claims and productivity dips.
Whilst in a small business change can generally happen quicker than in a larger organisation, it is still far from unusual to underestimate how long it will take. Once you factor in absences, holidays, more questions than you anticipated and the difficult of arranging meetings quickly, particularly with remote working involved, it can take longer than you think. It may be that you need to plan carefully what time of year the change is best implemented, if for example you have especially busy times or periods when lots of people are on holiday, making a process more difficult.
Professional advice can help you identify realistic-but-efficient timescales so that nothing is missed, unnecessary risks aren’t taken by skipping steps, and the change is effectively implemented as soon as possible.
Getting change right is crucial to the commercial success of a small organisation, and to achieving the desired outcome. If you’d like some advice on a change you’re considering, do get in touch.