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Effective Change Management: Understanding the Need To Change

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Running a business is never easy, but right now, businesses are being tested like never before. To survive, businesses must face new challenges with resilience and adaptability.

In current circumstances, simply staying afloat might feel like a tremendous feat. But to prosper now and in the long term, businesses must embrace change.

In this article, we’ll take you through the first steps of effective change management, helping you understand the need to change and which changes are needed.

Understanding the need to change

The first step to effective change management is identifying when change is needed. But that's easier said than done.

It can be challenging to acknowledge that certain practices and processes no longer serve your business effectively.

At times, change can be met with resistance from leadership or employees, leading you to question whether change is really necessary.

There are several indicators that change is needed at your business. Here are some common examples.

Creating a fulfilling workplace for employees

Sometimes, businesses experience a decline in employee satisfaction or motivation. It can often be identified by a number of employees leaving the company within a similar period, struggling to retain staff in particular roles, or failing to attract suitable recruits.

While it can be tempting to blame external causes, low retention and recruitment rates are often reflective of a negative employee experience. Businesses might want to effect change to become more attractive to high-quality employees.

Eliminating inefficiencies

Sometimes, 'business as usual' can lead to inefficiencies. Some business processes take a long time, use up too many resources or are simply no longer fit for purpose.

Processes should still be reviewed and updated even if they're seen to 'do the job'. A good business runs as efficiently as possible, reducing waste wherever it is found.

Often, a new business process can involve adopting new software, like customer relationship management tools or cloud accounting technology. Before investing in new solutions, however, businesses should seek to better understand the problem they're trying to address.

Raising profits

Old habits die hard. Businesses often get stuck in old habits because they feel familiar or comfortable. But when that happens, businesses usually lose money, whether they're aware of it or not.

A zoomed-out perspective of a company's overall operations can often reveal processes, resources or behaviours that drain finances. Putting them right can help you to improve your bottom line.

Improving customer satisfaction

An increase in customer complaints, drops in sales and lower rates of repeat business can all be signs of customer dissatisfaction.

If this is happening at your business, a proactive approach is needed. You should seek to understand your customers' perspectives. Perhaps their needs have changed, or perhaps standards at your organisation have slipped.

Getting a good understanding of how your business is perceived can help you identify the changes you should make.

Avoiding stagnancy and redundancy

Without change, businesses can become stagnant. That's why you'll often see prominent businesses appointing new CEOs, or established companies undergoing a rebrand.

Change brings a freshness to businesses, helping them to keep up with the times. Without regular change or innovation, businesses risk being perceived as antiquated or even redundant.

Curbing workplace conflicts

When the workplace feels like a hostile environment, you know something's not right.

Rivalries and competitiveness can give rise to all manner of undesirable reactions. Conflicts can impact the whole organisation, even if very few members of your team are involved.

Occasional workplace frustrations are to be expected, but when relationships frequently go awry, it's a sign that something needs to change.

Identifying what change is needed

Accepting the need for change can often be the hardest part. But as the old saying goes, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Change is the only way to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Next, it's time to identify what changes are necessary. Before deciding, it's a good idea to consult an effective change management consultant, who can conduct an unbiased review of your business. Here are some changes Delfinity has helped past clients to make.

Redefining the mission statement

It's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Without a clear mission statement or a wider strategic vision, businesses can lose their drive and momentum.

An organisation needs to define its ambition and identify how team members can contribute. Change can come from renewing or even redefining the company's mission statement, engaging relevant stakeholders in the process.

Choosing the right technology

Outdated technology can hold businesses back. Sometimes, old software can be far too slow, leading to inefficiencies and downtime. Other times, customers and stakeholders might have moved on and now use updated methods of collaboration.

In many instances, businesses are hesitant to embrace new technology. That could be because their current system gets the job done (however inefficient), the team is used to it, or it's perceived as too costly to change.

However, inefficiencies can lead to wasted resources that can ultimately lose your business money.

The solution is investing in the right technology. You'll need to be sure that whatever system you choose meaningfully supports your wider business goals.

Assessing leadership styles

When things go wrong in business, it's easy to blame employees. But ultimately, the success of a business is down to its leaders.

Change comes from the top. By assessing leadership styles and questioning their efficacy, you can determine traits, attitudes and behaviours that need to change within your leadership team.

While leadership is a learnable skill, it's not one that every leader has studied. Training programmes can help management teams to understand what it means to be a leader, and how their roles impact employee performance.

Curbing employee behaviour

Sometimes, employees can exhibit behaviours that are not conducive to your business, ultimately holding it back. When that happens, it's essential to address the problem's root cause, as temporary measures will only see undesirable behaviours reemerging.

Changes to your HR process can help you to identify the causes of employee dissatisfaction, demotivation and detrimental attitudes.

Improving processes

Socks before trousers. Milk before sugar. We all have little habits that feel so natural that we rarely question them.

But some business processes don't serve any real purpose. Are there things that your team does just because they're used to them? Whether it's too many meetings, unnecessary approval systems or task duplications, some processes are just plain useless.

Asking yourself whether a common work process is really necessary is a good start when identifying which changes to make.

Assigning responsibility

Have you heard of the bystander effect? It's a psychological phenomenon that makes people less likely to help someone in need when other people are present. That's because, in a crowd, no one person has responsibility.

A similar situation can arise in the workplace. When everybody believes the responsibility of a task belongs to someone else, it will never be performed effectively.

You can help your team to take accountability by clearly defining their job roles. That might involve rewriting job descriptions or clarifying everyone's responsibilities so that there is no confusion. This is often best achieved by working with an HR specialist.

Securing board buy-in

Sometimes, your wider stakeholders can hold you back. When the board is set in its ways, it can feel practically impossible to make meaningful change.

But ultimately, change is in their interest. Your task is to convey your intentions in such a way that gets them on the side.

Understanding board member concerns can help. Fear of the unknown may be causing resistance, but there might also be valid worries that need to be addressed.

By understanding their concerns, you can assess how to persuade your stakeholders to accept change, whether that's through a process of education or a compromise on your part.


Ready to embrace change?

The Delfinity team has supported businesses of every size and sector with effective change management programmes.

Learn more about us and our services, or contact us to discuss how we can help.

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