Hi all – Happy New 2019 Financial Year to you! I hope all is well with you, your family, your work and your business. Below is a blog I did for my great colleagues at the NCP – the Network of Consulting Professionals. I hope you find it interesting and don’t forget to give me a call if you need any help in driving change in your business in the new financial year!
Driving change in your business – overcoming the voices in your head
“I have to do everything myself, but after all the buck stops with me doesn’t it?”
“There are good months and bad months and I never seem to break the cycle”
“I am my own boss but sometimes I feel more trapped than when I was a regular employee.”
“ I know I will have to make changes but what about the risks and what if I fail?”
Are these familiar voices in your head? You think back to when you started – are you listening to all the advice you were given about working on your business and not in your business? Are you doing important things for the long term of your business or only urgent things that need doing now? Are your days spent in chaos, putting out fires and constantly dealing with issues?
You know changes are needed. Maybe you don’t know where to turn or who to talk too? Here are some proven tips that can help you get on your way.
Tip 1: Put some focus on the change
Someone needs to be focused on the changes. You may have someone in your business that you can allocate a number of days per week concentrating solely on the changes. Don’t try to manage this yourself or fit it into your staff’s current workload whilst everyone is also trying to run the business! You may also need to consider external help – it may surprise you to know that there are many people out there who want to work on changes on a part time, ad-hoc basis.
Tip 2: Manage the change like a project
Say that there is a critical piece of locally made equipment in your factory that keeps breaking down. You sit down with the supplier to get an explanation. They say “Not sure what is wrong, we just sort of put it together and hoped that it would work”. You ask them about the specifications. “None”. What are the quality/build procedures? “I am the quality procedure”. You wouldn’t be too happy about their lack of structured approach would you?
Changing your business will be hard. A structured approach to the required activities like a simple Who, What, When will be invaluable in driving the change. Staff (and suppliers) need to be held accountable for doing things when they said they would. Otherwise things will meander along and your change will lose momentum and fizzle out.
Tip 3: Understand ALL the impacts
Pollyanna is an old children’s book about a cheerful and optimistic girl, but a more meaning of the term Pollyanna is to be blindly optimistic about the benefits of something and try to avoid the reality of the cost. Unfortunately, many of us a wired to be like this!
Changes need that excitement and energy but for change to be successful you need to deal with all the impacts, not only the good ones. This is called a business impact analysis. This describes (at the least) the current state, the future state, what is changing, what is not changing, who it affects and when.
This will be tough to do for you and the team, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Tip 4: Did I say Communicate?
You know that the changes are the right thing for the business. You are committed to making them happen. How have you gone about telling others about this?
Have you openly gone through the change and what it will mean to your staff and your suppliers and customers?
What is the ‘mood in the pub’ about this change? Are people openly opposed or silently dismissive?
Your change will not be successful if you don’t have the buy-in from your staff. There – I’ve said it. Not everyone will be dancing with joy, but you will need to have a majority of people that are on board with you. Don’t assume that because you are the boss – everyone will just agree with you and get on with it. Get out of your office and communicate, communicate, communicate.
Businesses (and governments) of all sizes fall into traps and attempt to make changes that are spectacularly unsuccessful. Understanding some basic techniques like these above can make a huge difference to you making the most of your investment in change.
You need to grow and make changes to your business? Spend some time thinking about (1) focus, (2) project management, (3) business impacts and (4) communicating with your people. I guarantee it will make a huge difference to your chances of success.