How to deal with change in your business or industry

Change in your business can be helpful, but it's important to manage it well...

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Change is a normal and essential part of business. It’s an important step in improving your staff performance, enhancing goods or services and expanding.

Causes of change in business

The need for change can arise from sources both inside or outside your business. It can also be reactive or proactive.

  • Internal change could include changes in staff attitude, staff turnover, skilling requirements, employee duties or changes to management policies and styles.
  • External change could include changes in technology, changes in the needs of your customers, new laws or government regulations, or new competitors in your industry.
  • Reactive change is a change your business is forced to react to, such as a new law in your industry.
  • Proactive change is where you as the owner make the decision to change – usually to improve your business. These types of changes can come about from reviewing your business processes, innovating and coming up with ways to improve your business.

Regardless of whether the change is due to an internal or external source, all change involves adopting new processes, policies, behaviour and attitudes, so it makes sense to look at how to manage it effectively.

Why is it important to manage change?

Depending on the type or impact, change can be seen as an exciting opportunity or a source of disruption or threat.

A person’s ability to adapt to change can be influenced by how it is presented to them:

  • If people misunderstand the change, their ability to adapt to it is lower, causing barriers and ongoing issues.
  • If people understand the benefits of a change, they are more likely to contribute to the change process and support its success, which can ultimately mean less disruption to your business.

The goal of a good change management process is to get people on board with the changes and to align individual behaviour and skills with the change.

Good change management

While there is no single “right way” to manage change in your business, the important thing is to take an approach that best suits your business and its culture. A good change management approach will help you ensure a smooth transition, strengthen your business and help you retain your staff, business skills and knowledge.

In general you should work out why, what and how your business needs to change, and then involve your staff in each step.

There are many models and theories about change management  and the best way to manage change, and each one has its own benefits and limitations. It may be a bit overwhelming to look at all the studies in detail, but if your business is undergoing a major transition, you might like to take a look at them for a best-practice.

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