Change can be a difficult thing for a business to manage. Even when it is positive, there can be resistance from employees and customers. And at times, it may only be positive to certain parties. As a business owner, you need to be careful how you navigate this so that you don’t lose the loyalty of customers, employees, vendors or others who may be affected by it.
Remember Your Mission
What is your company’s mission statement and how can you ensure that it matters in the face of change? How can the change you want to implement help you better fulfill that mission statement and stick to your values? Being explicit about this can help you better identify where changes need to be made and why.
It can also help keep you steadfast in the face of resistance or other obstacles. If you are torn about whether or not it’s time to do something differently, there are a few things you can ask yourself.
Do you feel that your company is working at its full potential, and if not, how can you get there? Is there danger of stagnation? Are your competitors doing something different, and is it working to their advantage?
Being able to draw a clear line from your mission to your proposed new approach to things and being able to articulate why and how this will happen will serve you well throughout the process.
Explain the Reason
It’s important to communicate the reason for what you are going to start doing differently. While this may seem obvious, management often gets this wrong from the outset, treating employees and others as if everything must be on a need-to-know basis.
There may be times when this is necessary, such as if layoffs are looming or other sensitive information is involved, but if you are going to take this approach, make sure that it really is the right one. Otherwise, do what you can to be transparent with staff and others about the change that will affect them.
One reason it’s important to communicate effectively is that in the absence of information, people will come up with their own reasons. One way to improve the performance of your fleet is to install the Samsara live GPS tracking. With little information, your employees may see this as a method of surveillance or a suggestion that their performance is lacking.
Good communication allows you to explain the many strengths of this GPS tracking, including allowing customers to track drivers and allowing you to identify problems earlier. This also increases your flexibility and your ability to quickly respond to varying conditions.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when implementing a new product or way of doing things is failing to be empathetic to your audience. A huge part of determining how well your business handles change stems from how it is delivered. As you present this information to different stakeholders, keep in mind that you need to demonstrate how it is going to be positive for each group.
Employees are not going to be impressed with the knowledge that a certain change is going to make more money for the company, but if you point out that this means bigger raises for everyone, they will be.
Customers will want to know how the quality or price of the product, or the service will improve for them. Be diplomatic, especially if what you’re introducing is advantages to certain groups and not others.
For example, if you’re altering something about your process to make it easier for employees but it introduces a delay for customers, try to think of a way to present this as advantageous. Despite the delay, it might free up resources so that customers can be better accommodated in other ways.
Look for Concrete Improvement
There are so many innovative ways to make your small business more efficient, but why are you making the change? It can be easy to get caught up in the idea that you need to do something different because you see other businesses doing it or because the thing that is new looks particularly attractive, but make sure that there really is a need for it.
Many companies, large and small, have had the experience of implementing a big shift in a product or a process only to face an outcry so intense that they go back to the previous way of doing things.
You can reduce the likelihood of this happening by doing your research and having specific, measurable aims. For example, one common error companies make is changing a product for very little reason.
Make sure you understand your customers and what they want, and if you do decide to move forward with a change, have a way to measure whether or not what you’ve done is successful.
At the same time, there are a couple of common phenomena that you should be aware of. One is that your staff may be very resistant, particularly if they have to learn new processes. Make sure that you fully understand what they do, the nature of their objections and what improvements are expected.
If the change really is a positive one, they will adjust eventually. A related issue is how customers react. You can see this on social media platforms, where tweaks to the model are common. This is usually met with some initial resistance, but following this, users generally adjust fairly quickly.
Prepare for Challenges
With all of the above in mind, remember that just because you face a challenge doesn’t mean that making a change was the wrong thing to do. There are sure to be bumps in the road even if you are moving in a positive direction overall.
Anticipating what those challenges might be and what you could do in response to them can be a useful exercise. It’s also worth considering what might persuade you to roll back the change and how you would go about doing if it were absolutely necessary.
Having plans in place for all of this beforehand, made with a cooler head, can help if you suddenly find yourself doing damage control in the midst of a lot of stress. A clear roadmap can help you navigate your way through whatever happens.