As the global pandemic reminds us, the only constant in business (and life) is change. Some business owners and CEOs are more open to this principle than others, but whatever your degree of acceptance or resistance, it’s clear that businesses must adapt to change—or die.
Of course, not all change has to be seismic. In less tumultuous times, differing levels of change and innovation may be enough to sustain a business. Today, as business embarks on the path to recovery, some degree of change is coming for everyone.
How can you encourage and support change within your organisation? Keep these helpful tips in mind:
Always be thinking about the future.
As events remind us, some degree of “future thinking” is critically important for business leaders. One way to achieve this goal is assigning a senior executive or some other trusted employee to maintain close control of everyday business operations. This frees you up to think more consistently and strategically about what lies ahead.
Another strategic option is joining a business advisory board like TAB. The chief purpose of this type of peer leadership group is contemplating what the future holds and making plans to adapt in ways that accelerate growth.
Be prepared and accepting of failure.
Not all change initiatives will meet with success. This doesn’t mean the effort is futile. A mindset where risk and failure are accepted as possibilities means you are more willing to try a new product upgrade or marketing strategy, and deal with the consequences as they arise. Doing nothing isn’t a viable option.
Don’t “spend time dwelling on your failures” or “you will never be able to grow your win column,” notes Redland Daily Facts. Remember, “failure is just a pothole on the road to success.”
Adopt a plan and take measured steps to complete it.
If you have a change plan in mind, it’s probably unwise to attempt to do a “complete makeover” all at once. A measured, step-by-step approach will yield more satisfactory results, since (a) incremental change is regarded more favourably by everyone involved; and (b) going step-by-step offers the opportunity to evaluate the impact of the change process, and to handle any red flags that crop up.
Start the change by changing yourself.
As a CEO and/or business owner, chances are you’re pretty knowledgeable about both your own company and in the industry in which your business operates. But are you genuinely up to date on changes likely to affect your industry in the next 5-10 years?
Effective change starts with the person in charge becoming as knowledgeable as possible about all aspects of the industry—but particularly, innovations in the digital realm that threaten to level the playing field and allow new competitors to emerge.
Also, focus is critically important. Thrive Global advises staying “away from the Internet and social media sites” and developing “a system of thinking outside the box, being creative, and [visualising] your path.” Find new people to work with. Check out sources of information you may have previously dismissed. If you aim to be a change leader, the best place to start is by changing yourself.
Work hard at bringing others on board.
It’s almost always a given—people and departments within an organisation will resist attempts to change. It’s also true that you need buy-in from just about everyone to ensure that change actually works. To achieve this goal:
- Be transparent about what change is coming and its impact on the business.
- Reward outstanding participation by employees in making change a reality.
- In your employee communications, always be upbeat and optimistic about the change you want to bring to the organisation.
Most of all, remind employees that “we’re all in this together.” Report on milestones as they are reached and act as the “motivator-in-chief,” so that employees feel reassured that the risk (and benefits) of change are shared by the entire company. This will make them feel more amenable to whatever lies ahead.