Learn to Embrace Change

These three tips will help you leverage change to create opportunities both big and small in your business.

January 2016

In business, the only certainty is change. Some change is by choice—the natural adjustments an organization makes from one year to the next, such as upgrading your operating system or hiring additional staff. Other times, change happens with little input from you. Market shifts, government regulations and new technologies can render old, reliable systems obsolete, and you may find yourself in a reactive position.

Whether change occurs by choice or necessity, there are a few tips you can follow, not only to manage change when it happens, but to use it as an opportunity to make your business better than ever.

1. Find the opportunity.

A common misstep when faced with change is to deal only with the specific issue in front of you. Instead, new circumstances can present the opportunity for a broader reassessment of how the company is approaching its business.

In nearly every industry, innovations in technology are constantly changing the rate and efficiency with which companies must do business in order to compete. While keeping up with and adopting the latest technology requires time and resources, the payoff for doing so is often far greater.

For example, this month Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7. That means updates and patches will no longer be available for this version of the operating system. While your hand may be forced to change your operating system, it could be an opportunity to move from a desktop office suite to cloud-based Office 365, for example, which is accessible from nearly any device. Making a simple change about the office suite your business uses can open up a range of improvements in how and where you and your employees work. Review your organization’s full use of technology and how it might be used more effectively.

2. Better doesn’t always mean bigger.

Victor Clarke, owner of marketing firm Clarke Inc., has experienced significant changes over his 20 years in the industry, and one lesson he has learned about change is that bigger is not always better.

“I wish I had started smaller than I did, and with fewer employees,” says Clarke. “I had too much wasted space in the building I owned. I would rather have rented a smaller, more cramped space, hoping to move up to another rented, less cramped space."

A few years ago, Clarke slimmed down his company significantly, cutting staff from 25 employees to 12 and moving to a smaller space. At first, the huge reorganization required came as something of a shock, but having to cut back much of the company also presented Clarke with the opportunity to focus on the organization’s core competencies. He sought to perfect his existing systems and software and raise the bar on his customer service. The result has been a leaner organization that is now poised for sustainable growth, rather than the over-extended company of a few years before. Even radically changing the structure of your organization can be a good thing, if you keep your attention on your company’s core functions.

3. Prepare for change before you have to.

Being nimble in changing circumstances means understanding what resources you have at your disposal. This includes equipment, software and human resources as well. If an employee you consider essential leaves the organization, knowing what skills and capabilities the other members of the staff possess will allow you to keep things running seamlessly—or even better than before. Chances are, rather than seeking outside assistance, you already have the resources you need. Establish a process for employees to cross-train each other on their daily tasks and responsibilities and document that knowledge transfer.

“Talk with your employees and determine what their interests are, what their professional goals are, as well as assess what their strengths and weakness are in their work,” says Deanna Arnold, president of Employers Advantage LLC.

She adds that with this information, you can then find potential areas of untapped talent, or determine if any shifts need to be made to workers’ current responsibilities. You will want to run these sorts of assessments each year, if not more often. This will assure you have a better understanding of the resources at your disposal and will also help reinforce the company goals and objectives to your employees, ensuring they have a vested interest in achieving them.

 

 

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