By Sharyn Raiti
‘Change’ – a simple six-letter word that can cause an enormous amount of fear and stress. As we know, change is inevitable and happens for many reasons – business expansion and growth, changes in the market place, the global economy, evolving technology, consumer trends, customer demand, etc. Major change in our business occurs on average every few years, while change on a smaller scale is happening continuously. As important and necessary as it is, it appears to be one of the hardest challenges to accept; we face it with resistance because it feels uncomfortable and creates anxious uncertainty for most people. On the positive side, change is also an exciting time of creativity and an opportunity to be innovative with your business practices. What can be done differently, what can you tap into to make a change for the better, what hasn’t been done before that could be an amazing business opportunity? We are currently experiencing a time of dramatic change unlike any we have seen in many years, so it is now time to reassess and plan where you are headed and what changes are needed to stay resilient in challenging times. I have written the following article with the intention of giving you an insight into how to implement change in an important time and to consider what areas of your business you need to address immediately to keep moving forward.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”. Charles Darwin
Why do I need to change?
Have you recognised that it’s time to make changes? Adaptable businesses thrive and you can’t wait for the signs to flash up in front of you – you need to act now; it’s in the air and the time is apparent. We don’t always recognise when we need to change, it’s more a feeling that ‘things’ don’t feel like they used to; the profit levels are lower, our employees are bored and unproductive and something needs to alter. The longer the delay the deeper the consequences, so read on and discover the power of change and how being resilient will help you make it happen.
Dealing with resistance to change
We are all creatures of habit and we love the ‘comfort zone’. It feels secure. It’s a fact that your employees will try to resist change; it’s a natural response when fear takes hold but it’s a dangerous situation as it can hold your business back. When faced with change your employees may roll through many human emotions such as fear, frustration, denial, resistance and finally, all going well…acceptance to be part of the future progression of your business. Change can impart such emotion for some employees that they may even leave, so it’s vital to carefully include and support them effectively to ensure they are secure with what needs to occur. Take a really close look – what needs to change and who needs to change with you? Include your employees in the change process by asking them what they have noticed, what have they seen that needs to be updated, what do we need to change? Facilitate a brainstorming session and document their feedback. This is critical information and so very valuable – not just because it’s their viewpoint but because they are your pivotal point and will either flex and move with you or resist. Change needs to be part of your business culture and embraced so employees will expect to move with the times and not be shocked when changes are made because it’s a rare experience.
When working with my business coaching clients I support the necessary change by performing a specific needs analysis which allows me to lift the lid and look closely at what is working well in their business and what is not – an essential part of progression. Change is an easier process when you have a professional on board to pave the way and show you how it’s done.
What needs to change?
It’s time to cast an honest eye over yourself and your business practices in order to make important decisions and move forward. Do you need to change your way of thinking; are you stopping the changes that need to occur? Do you need to look from the outside into your business and do you need someone to point out what is in your blind spot? Time to let down your guard and be open to feedback. Sometimes we are too close to our business to see what needs changing, sometimes we are too proud and even too emotional. Feedback is not criticism if it’s delivered effectively – we are all at different levels in our business understanding and we have done the best possible with our current knowledge but what else do you need to learn?
How to make change happen
Create trust and good relationships with your employees
Ask your employees for their input on what changes are needed
Don’t communicate the changes until you are certain about how to implement them effectively
Communicate appropriately – how will you tell people?
Be repetitive and share a story about how the changes will be effective
Be specific about why the changes are necessary
Convert negative employees and win them over with inclusion
Be positive and stay focussed
Lead with strength and never show signs of panic
Lead your employees from ‘I don’t know what we are doing’ to ‘I know where we are going and I am part of this’ and from ‘I’m scared I’ll lose my job or have my hours reduced’ to ‘I’m excited about my future in this progressive business’ and from ‘I just do what I’m told’ to ‘I contribute to the direction of my workplace and I can help meet its goals.’
Set goals and stay focussed on the changes needed
Revisit your business plan
Look for opportunity
Seek the experience of industry professional to assist you with change
Create the framework for the change process
Deliver with confidence and genuinely listen to feedback
Monitor the outcomes and celebrate the success
Measure – employee attitudes, body language and emotions, increase in skill development, gained knowledge, is the communication effective, have the changes been understood and implemented, are the changes working?
Finally, know what is going on in the economy and the media but don’t fall prey to all the ‘bad news’ – be positive, proactive and plan for tomorrow.
Change may be feared but not avoided – if you choose to take a swerve past it you will be left behind – now is the time to take the next step and take a strong hold for the future. Change is the key to a successful future and your ability to be resilient during this will allow you to flourish into the future. Can you really afford to resist change?
Sharyn Raiti is the director of Mentor Management and offers beauty industry-specific business coaching and training and specialises in change management. Mentor Management offers customised coaching packages tailored to suit the specific needs of your business. Sharyn has formal qualifications in Training, Coaching and Beauty Therapy with over 22 years industry experience. Call Sharyn for a free change management business evaluation today on 0410 691 910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .