Posted by & filed under Active Listening, Conflict, Corporate Culture, Leadership.

adapting to changeIt’s a new month nearing the end of the year: a perfect time to take stock. What’s working and what might need to change within your business as you start to think about 2017?

We’re kicking off a three-week blog series on adapting to change. We’ll cover: how to identify when change is needed, how to make successful transitions, and how to perpetuate new initiatives for the long haul. First, why do we need to change in business? And how do we accept (or get others to accept) that there’s a problem that needs to be fixed?

Why We Resist Change

Resistance to change is natural: when something changes, it often introduces risk and requires effort. If it were easy, every gym would be just as full at the end of December as it was the previous January. Whether in a small business or a large corporation, change can be difficult. Altering a process involves a lot of education, inspiration, and reinforcement. Resistance to change, then, is a form of self-preservation. If we’ve managed to stay alive in the status quo, why would we want to do anything to potentially upset the balance we’ve achieved?

When Change Is Inevitable

Problems are bound to arise whether you like it or not, from outside your company or within. External forces might be putting pressure on your current business model. Perhaps you’ve experienced so much growth that it’s time to scale your production or your staff. Maybe a competitive new product or service in your niche is impacting your sales, or perhaps new government regulations will make it harder to continue operating as usual. Forces inspiring change can also be internal. New leadership, conflicts between employees or departments, and/or budgetary constraints can present challenges that need to be addressed. These sorts of problems aren’t the exception — they’re a fundamental feature of running a business. Acknowledging their existence is important to head off potential pitfalls down the road.

Accepting Change Means Being Honest

The truth is that when problems arise, it’s all too easy for company leadership to put off taking action. Action is change, and change is risky. Will your business have enough resources to commit to the problem? Would addressing this issue create new problems in other areas? Will productivity, sales, or company culture deteriorate, potentially putting the entire business at risk? In the end, adaptability is not a reckless quality: it’s necessary. Successful businesses are those who are brave enough to identify problems and honest enough to admit when a problem needs to be addressed efficiently in order to avoid failure.

How to do this? First, listen to employees who are in a position to identify potential problems up front. Calling a problem to management’s attention is not a risk-free decision. Employees who feel the need to raise issues with supervisors do so because they feel invested in the company’s success; they see an issue as particularly threatening to that overall mission. Listen for urgency and an attempt to convince you that something needs to be done. Next, beware of dismissing problems out of hand. Just because it’s the first time the problem is brought to your attention doesn’t mean it’s not significant. And not having a solution to a problem isn’t a good enough reason to continue the status quo: putting off any discussions will only make it harder to solve.

Next, we’ll discuss how to begin to address problems and steps to finding real solutions.

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


Photo by geralt (Pixabay)

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