Business remodelling: Put your plans in to actionby
So, you have decided to make some changes to your business model. Whether this is a significant move or a small adjustment, it is worth considering a few human aspects before you start.
There are many theories around the process we go through to invoke change but most of them start with awareness of change, gathering knowledge, consideration or contemplation. Once a course of action looks clear it is “intention” followed by “action”.
Whilst logical theories are great, they often fail to notice the emotional baggage that comes with change. Change can feel uncomfortable. For some in your team or your family, it can look unnecessary and can be fighting a logic based assumption that it's risk-free to stay as we are. So, how can we effectively put our plans in to action?
Start with a vision
Understand your own leadership style and consider adopting an “authoritative” approach whereby you explain the vision the action is aiming to achieve.
Emotional Intelligence suggests that a good place to start is to put yourself in the position of the people involved. If you are not sure how they feel, then ask targeted questions until you do. If your plan has flaws, this is where you are likely to find them.
People can also see themselves within this plan and that can give an element of comfort. Ask yourself what each person or group of people impacted will gain from this change. If redundancies are happening, be open about it and take action quickly, or risk losing the staff you wanted to keep as uncertainty rises.
Consider your priorities in advance. Which outcome or aspect of the outcome is the most important? We will naturally feel included towards the parts of the plan with which we are most familiar; if you are putting off the tough stuff then try to delegate it or at least seek advice.
When looking at your priorities consider the concept of rocks, gravel, and sand - imagine your time is a glass jar into which you can fit three rocks. These are your most important tasks for the week. Some space remains in the jar around these rocks and this is your gravel. These are important but not urgent tasks. Finally, there may be room for some sand. This could be “nice to have” activities.
I often describe this aspect as “this or better” within a plan. Be open to the prospect that some deviation will occur and that this may be even better than you had hoped. The plan isn’t the most important thing; the outcome is.
So, keep your eye on the outcome and be flexible along the way. Remember that “no plan survives first contact with the enemy” (Helmuth von Molke), and adaption and acceptance are ongoing aspects of any business or personal transformation.
Where there is a big change, find yourself a cheerleader. I don’t mean a pom-pom waver - I mean someone who will support you and your vision through the ups and downs of the transformation. It may be your partner, a business coach, your office manager or a friend.
Whomever it is, you need to trust them. The more removed they are from any negative impact of the change, the better. This will stop their fear from adding to any concerns you have. Enthusiasm gives life to your vision, but your cheerleader will also need to be a critical friend to give you honest feedback along the way.
Watch the metrics
Any business change has an element of hope. A hope that you have chosen the right product or the best service, or that you have a true understanding of the direction or needs of your market.
The question is: how much money or time are you going to risk on that hope? Plan your progress stages with acceptable deviations in both timescale and finance. Watch out for excuses or justifications of why a larger deviation has occurred. If you were ‘too hopeful’ then adjust your cashflows and timescales at these stages. Be honest and adaptive about what you have learned.
By setting out the new norm and sticking to it yourself, you have a good chance of success. People might push back as it is easier for them if you don’t change, but it's important to stick to your guns. If you have said no meetings after 6pm, for example, people will adapt as long as you follow through with it.
Similarly, “do as I say and not as I do” is a failing I have often seen in business leaders. For example, they impose a new system on the team and then expect the team to adjust the outcomes so that they still get the report they wanted in the way they are familiar with. Be the first to adopt the change and stick to it.
Is everyone who is impacted by the change in the loop? Communicate clearly and often. Fear can give rise to catastrophising where an outcome is unclear, but honesty can build trust. Encourage feedback, even if you don’t want to hear it. Resentment costs money in lost productivity, so consider your communication strategy carefully.
Celebrate your successes. Change is hard so remember to reflect and give yourself and your team a pat on the back for a job well done along the way.
Finally, remember that: “The key to change is to let go of fear” (Rosanna Cash).
Sharon Critchlow will be speaking alongside our other accounting experts at our AccountingWEB Live Expo this December. There will be over 60 panels, workshops, seminars and lectures at the Expo, covering business, MTD, Autumn Budget and much more - many with CPD attached.
AccountingWEB Live Expo takes place on 1-2 December 2021 at Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry. Registration is now open. Please visit the AccountingWEB Live Expo website for full details and to sign up to our newsletter.
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