A lot is written about change: that it is inevitable, that it is disruptive, that it is good for us. As a business owner, change is fundamentally what you are about. Change is how you and your business improve and grow. Change is what moves the business forward.
Despite this, change is something that many business owners struggle with. If one initiative fails, the appetite for change can dry up. Or the business may successfully deliver a one-off ‘step-change’, but struggle to embrace continual change and improvement.
A key part of our proposition is to help clients identify the changes they want and need to make in order to achieve their goals. Then, it’s a matter of helping them implement the required change and, crucially, making that change ‘stick’.
Embedding change in the business
One client contacted us about a change initiative that was losing momentum. The initiative – introducing more lean and agile working to accelerate developments, reduce cost and improve innovation – had started well, with plenty of support across the business. However, the head of development felt that the momentum had slowed and that the business was in danger of slipping back to its previous behaviours.
Together, we identified five ways to reinforce the change and embed this idea of continual improvement in the business:
- Communicate regularly. Creating lasting change in people’s behaviour requires a ‘campaign’ of communications over an extended period of time. The use of early success stories and co-opting others into the communication can be very powerful.
- Articulate the reasons for and benefits of change. Some people respond better to hard evidence and intellectual persuasion, while others need more emotional persuasion. Most of us need a mix of the two and also want to understand ‘what’s in it for me?’
- Engage people at all levels of the business. For this particular head of development, this meant recognising the power of energising his own team, collaborating with his peer managers and engaging frequently with the MD.
- Take a leadership role. If momentum is to be generated and sustained, it often requires an individual to take the lead or a number of individuals to lead different projects. This is good for the business and also a great development opportunity for you people.
- Align your processes, systems and measurement. Sustaining any change requires the support of processes and systems. Change needs tracking, using metrics that show how you are improving and how the change is delivering positive results.
Using this approach, the client made significant improvements in business performance, underpinned by a reduced cost base and increased innovation.
Making change stick in your business
This guidance is typical of the support Henchards provides to businesses wishing to generate positive changes to improve their business performance. From a one-off transformation project to continual improvements, we can help you ensure change sticks, not slips.
Talk to us about moving your business forward today.