“ Change management is hard, Lorna! And you know that too!” declared one of my clients, waiting expectantly for me to agree...
“I agree with you, entirely! So why not kiss change management goodbye and embrace business readiness?”
“What!?...what's business readiness?
You see, we were working on turning around his business and he kept introducing a number of change management theories completely unaware that I was studiously ignoring him. I knew I was a victim of my own advice to him, which was to read widely.
I confess, I studied lots of the change management models, after all I wanted to pass my exams. And yes...I do have a fondness for Kotter’s 8-Step Change Management theory.
But when I work with small businesses, I know that you want solutions, tools and approaches which helps you to be flexible and to adapt as quickly as possible. If' that's you, now is the time to embrace business readiness.
So, what's does change management mean to small business?
Change management creates a mental picture in which sometime in the future things will not or cannot be the same for your business and you need to get ready for that time and those things, right now in the present. Agreed?
Aha! That’s not change management. That's what we’re going to call business readiness, which requires a set of different and relevant strategies. So now is the perfect time to embrace it.
Listen, when you begin to think of business readiness instead of change management, it places you, the business owner right in the driver’s seat of any change.
Therefore, you can’t blame your employees, your team or change management if you do not transition into the future you anticipate. You have to get your business ready to perform in that place or get out of business.
What’s keeping you from embracing business readiness?
Whatever you call it, there are some factors which will prevent you from rushing into change. Let me share the ones I come across most often as I work with my clients, so you are already ahead of the curve.
Business owners/leaders are slaves to particular ways of thinking, being and doing.
One particular way of thinking is that change management is really for big businesses and organisations and you don’t have the money to implement such a programme. This thinking is enough to send you hiding under the bed far less thinking about any business readiness.
Employees are allowed to remain passive for too long.
In this state they will move at their own pace, complain constantly without offering any solutions, promise to do something and not do it, take no or little initiative, the list is long. When faced with this, business owners are not motivated to do any major planning for the business.
Leaders/Business Owners lack the confidence and motivation to tackle certain problems.
Usually these are problems involving people (like those at #2 above). When you have poor interpersonal skills and low self-confidence, you avoid these problems, even when they threaten the growth of your business.
Employees are not consistently called to a higher standard of performance.
I’m not sure this needs an explanation but it is the outcome of #2 & 3 above. It’s also the result of a combination of poor management and leadership skills which cause the owner to believe that in order to get something done well, she must do it herself.
Small business owners do not have the resilience to stay on task when things fall apart.
Having resilience means that you have the ability to quickly adapt to disruptions while keeping your business operating smoothly. Most times, business owners spend so much time and limited resources putting out “disruption” fires, there is no time to think of getting the business ready for anything.
Continuously focusing on the big picture without considering the many “pixels” that make it up.
Many small business owners boast of being “big picture” thinkers. This is okay but it often prevents you from thinking about the details of what it takes to drive business readiness.
How do you embrace business readiness?
Change the way you think about change.
The biggest choke hold in any business is the owner’s mindset. If you’re not flexible and willing to adapt, you can only react to circumstances instead of anticipating and planning a future. If you can think of change as just another business strategy then change management will sweetly evolve into “business readiness”.
Be strategic about the way you drive change.
Begin by anticipating what’s coming and where you want your business to be when it comes. When you have that outcome or that end in mind, develop the strategies and acquire the resources in the present to be able to respond when that time comes. In other words, get your business ready. And assume responsibility for the entire process.
Encourage employees to take on the role of intrapreneur/ stakeholder.
This is especially important if your employees have been allowed to be passive for too long.
In the role of intrapreneurs, for example, employees are required to master their jobs, handle the responsibilities they were hired to handle and demonstrate problem-solving skills and a willingness to take the initiative.
This is also how you call them to their greatness and help them evolve into powerful catalysts for change.
Focus on changing what you can control...
What you can control includes YOU, the way you do business, the way you communicate, the way you lead...and more. This is a guarantee to help you build your resilience muscle so that when things fall apart, you can still focus on the what needs to be done.
It also calls for what I call “Rapid Scale Leadership” a process by which you take your business where it needs to be, especially in the context of the market in which it operates.
Communicate to build support and buy-in.
This places communication at the centre of the entire process. You have to ask for ideas right at the very beginning of the process. Then you share those ideas and ask for feedback and when you come up with a plan, share it and allow you team to help you knock it into shape.
It’s very human to want to support and buy into something that you helped to shape. So when you communicate to build support and buy-in, you accelerate the rate at which you get your business to a state of readiness.
Practice changing and getting business ready every day.
Yeah...because at the end of the day, big change is really the never-ending, constant improvement of the small “pixels” in the big picture, which control the success or failure of your business.
Now it’s over to you...
There you have it! The reasons why you must embrace business readiness right now and some strategies to help you do it.
What I’ve shared with you is a condensed version of a process I take my clients through to get their businesses ready for the future they envision. Even though it’s condensed you can still find loads of value in the information.
If figuring it out on your own turns out to be too much for you, go ahead and contact me...I will be happy to work with you!