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Managing Change

One of the areas that I support my clients with is managing their business through change. Your business may be faced with external changes which are outside your control such as the economic recession, changes in the market place you operate in, competitors bringing out new products and services and unexpected events (e.g. fire, floods etc.). Also you may want to make changes to your business, such as growing your business, a joint venture with another company, changing your suppliers, introducing new products and services or relocating your business.

Whatever change your business is faced with, managing the change effectively is key to the success of your business. Here are some tips and ideas that may help you in managing change in your business:

Stay calm. It is easy to panic and get stressed when you are faced with changes in your business. However this will impact on your ability to make rational decisions and to manage the change. Try and stay calm and think through the situation you are faced with rationally.

Decide on what you want. You may jump into making the change but this can lead to you setting off in the wrong direction and having to backtrack. Think through what you want to achieve for your business and what the end goal is.

Make a plan. If you start taking action without a plan you may miss important actions that you should be taking. Think through everything that you need to do to achieve your end goal and plan out all the different actions that need taking and by when.

Communicate. You may know what you want to achieve and have a plan but have you communicated this to everyone who needs to know. Not communicating can result in everyone working in different directions. Communicate what you want to achieve and how you are going to do this to everyone concerned, including your staff, customers, suppliers etc. Continue with regular communication throughout the change and ask for feedback on how things are going.

Provide support and resources. Change is very difficult for those impacted, especially your staff, and you may need additional resources in the business to manage the change. Provide support to all those impacted by the change, whether through internal resources or outside help, and ensure the business is adequately resourced.

Don't lose sight of the customer. When your business is faced with change it is easy to become internally focused and take your eye off your customers and the service they are receiving. Ensure that you focus on providing a high level of customer service and regularly communicate with your customers throughout any change. Also don't forget to keep marketing your business to potential new customers as well.

Take action and review progress. Change can result in a lack of action and procrastination as people get hung up with what has happened or needs to happen. Take action and implement your plan. Have regular progress meetings, review how things are going, agree the next actions and reprioritise and reschedule where necessary.

Be flexible. In any change things rarely all go accordingly to plan. Be flexible and open to the unexpected. Be prepared to change track and adapt your plan.

Keep focused. It is easy to get distracted when many different things are happening and you have a lot to do in your business. Keep focused on the end goal and in implementing your plan. Also focus on what you can control, not the things that are outside your control.

Be realistic. When planning a change or reacting to an external change you can underestimate the time involved and what needs to be done. Being unrealistic may lead to the change not happening or going wrong. Be realistic about what can be achieved and in what timescales.

Get support for yourself. External and internal changes are very demanding for you personally as the business owner. It is at times like these that it is important to get support. Consider what support you will benefit from (e.g. a business mentor, a trusted friend, a work colleague etc.) and elicit that support.

Celebrate success. Making changes and handling change are very challenging for those involved. So don't forget to celebrate a successful change and thank those involved for their contribution.

You may be going through change at the moment in your business, be planning a change or be faced with an unexpected change in the future. Whichever category you are in, look to manage the change effectively rather than letting the change manage you.

Author: Liz Makin
Published: September 2009

Through Makin It Happen - Coaching, Mentoring & Stress Management, Liz Makin provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals. If you are looking for a business coach, business mentor or help with stress please contact Liz on 01780 765270 or email Liz@makinithappen.co.uk to arrange a free consultation session.


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