In my daily discussions with various business owners I often discuss the difficulty of dealing with change. Some business owners and leaders find huge difficulty and resistance when implementing change in their companies. Other businesses have a deeper entrenched problem – resistance to change is coming from the top brass.
I see many businesses, including family businesses, that compromise on changes that need to be undertaken in order not to rock the boat too much. This unfortunately exposes the business to the risk of unplanned events or a business downturn that risks killing the business once and for all. Delaying key decisions is risky.
Many times I also see that many do not have the necessary leadership skills to communicate changes well and to persuade people around them. With such a lack of skills they prefer to run away from problems or do nothing about them – hoping that such problems would magically go away.
The reality is that taking evasive action — than addressing the issues at hand and implementing change – means that having the problems sorted in the future will come at an even higher cost.
The good news is that there is a growing body of knowledge and practice about how businesses can cope effectively with change. The usual, standard steps for managing change are the ones below:-
However I believe that the most important step is the first one.
When about to implement change you need to convince people about its need. You need to create a strong case for such a change. We normally persuade people using rational explanations or through emotions or through credibility. When managing change in an organisation, it is likely that you would need to convince and persuade people by building a rational strong case, built on numbers and analysis but also bridge that analysis to emotions as after all you are dealing with people. Many times changes never see the day of light as whoever is trying to implement it, does not have the skill to create a strong case for change and persuade others about it.
Notwithstanding the best of efforts at creating a strong case for change, there will always be those who will resist change. This is quite normal. There is however only one sensible approach – communicating, communicating and communicating to overcome negative perceptions and emotional & psychological fears of change, until the majority of people go through the change process shown below:
The above change process reminds of the popular Gandhi quote ““First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” So my message to business leaders is to hang in there and if you truly believe in pushing for the change that is needed, do not let all the resistance you will be met with, deter you from keeping onto your path for change.