Change is inevitable

Change is inevitable

We are often terrified and feel uncomfortable when there is threat of a change in a company as a result of the appointment of a new boss, or when a company has been taken over by another. Change is inevitable. The environment is very uncertain and is always in a state of change. Businesses have to deal with change if they have to survive and thrive. Leaders should learn to overcome fear and embrace the changes ahead.

A well renowned business guru Peter Drucker said, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Change is painful but it’s necessary for the future survival of businesses. However most business leaders hate change with a passion but what they fail to recognise is they will go out of business if they do not change with the times. The world is so unpredictable and there is so much uncertainty in our tomorrow. The rapid change businesses are experiencing brings threats or opportunities to business leaders. It’s very important how we deal with these changes.

We need to manage change so that it does not become our Achilles heel in our business performance. In business change might emanate from a simple change in processes which results in the improvement in customer service, or it could be from major changes in policy or strategy that are needed if the organization is to achieve its potential, or it’s a result of fundamental changes in the economic environment that pose as threats to the organisation.

For instance a dramatic depreciation in the currency will call for drastic changes in how the business will price its products if there is a high import content. How then can we handle change? Change needs to be viewed not only on its impact on profitability but consideration should also be given to the employees who will be affected by whatever measures you will take to deal with changes in the environment. If you need success when dealing with change you need to ensure that senior executives are in support of the intended change. They will need to give the nod or actually initiate it.

You need to spell out the objectives of the change and determine how pervasive the change will be. You need to establish which of your stakeholders will be affected. There should be buy-in from the people that will be affected directly or indirectly by the changes. In order to get buy-in it’s advisable to involve your key stakeholders in the designing and in the implementation of the changes. This will guarantee ownership of the change process.

The key word in every change programme is COMMUNICATION. You need to communicate the anticipated changes to everyone who will be affected so that they will be ready to adapt to the changes. You need to create some readiness in people. Change is very complex, knowing what to do is as important as knowing what not to do. Leaders intending to implement change should clearly express the reasons for change. They should appoint certain “change champions” that will spearhead specific change activities, such as designing the activities, testing them and solving problems emanating from the process.

An assessment of the impact of the changes on people and the organization’s structure should be undertaken. This will help the organisation to put measures to deal with the adverse impacts of the change. The impact of the uncertainty and the upheaval that will result from the activities should be minimised. Training needs arising from the change should be attended to so that the staff that is involved in the change process have the requisite skills to see the process through.

As you plan the change process, it’s important to agree on success indicators that you will use to measure your achievements. Endeavours to implement change have been met with mixed responses of success and failure because of how the processes have been handled. The process of change might require the organisation to relook at its organisational structure and at its culture, that is, how things are done in that organisation. This process is very sensitive and is likely to bring a lot of uncertainty within the employees and therefore might attract some resistance when implementing the process.

A change process can fail because the reasons for change are not clear or not compelling enough to attract the support of those involved. A lack of communication will affect the success of the process. Senior executives should take upon themselves to ensure they communicate the change process, why it has to be done, what will be done, how the organisation will deal with any adverse impact of the changes. Organisations need to harness change. To avoid failure in the change process, efforts in organizational change should not only focus on the structural aspects of organizations at the expense of the reality that change doesn’t happen without individual people changing their thinking, beliefs and behaviour. So we need to take our employees along with us.

Change is important. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” – Anonymous

l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship. He is the Managing Consultant of Shekina Consulting (Pty) Ltd and provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, corporate governance, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: sjakarasi@gmail.com, call on +266 58881062 or WhatsApp +266 62110062.

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