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Swimming the tides of change Swimming the tides of change

Changes in technology are moving at an alarming rate, showing no signs of slowing down. Customers are demanding better, faster products, services and experiences and want to do more with less. Companies now have to undergo change almost constantly if they are to remain competitive.

 

Hayes Knight has seen their own rate of change increase over the past few years. This year, several major changes rolled together forced the firm to seriously consider the impact of these changes and how best to manage the process and inevitable upheaval. Below, Practice Manager, Helen Hall, reflects on Hayes Knight's recent experience with managing change.

There is no doubt that organisational change can be difficult. Typical responses can be fear, anger and resistance, but rather than seeing change as something to be tolerated only when necessary, we have shifted our thinking to understand that change will now be constant. We recognise that innovative organisations embrace change as a tool to benefit all stakeholders and therefore this mindset of welcoming, rather than fearing change is often a competitive advantage.

Retired American businessman Jack Welch famously said of organisations; "If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near."

In fact, employers who embrace technology and innovation are now seen as attractive employers, despite the impact it may have on the team implementing changes. This is because progressive employers know how to support change effectively, ensuring that great communication remains a priority.

Thinking about how we have adapted so far to keep our heads above water and what we should focus on for the remainder of this year, with some significant changes yet to roll out, to follow are some top tips based on our experience so far.

TOP 10 TIPS FOR STAYING AFLOAT IN TIMES OF CHANGE

1. Jump right in

Breaking a project down into manageable steps with achievable deadlines will allow you time to scope and plan, whilst still remaining focussed on the present. You don't need to know all the detail before you start but if you know what you need to achieve, allow plenty of time and get started now, you will be done before you know it.

Have faith that if it is the right thing for your business and your customers, then it will always be the right thing for your team too.

2. Involve the team

Vertical project teams are ideal for larger scale projects that involve the whole team. They create opportunities for junior and senior team members to not only benefit from each other's experience but create valuable teaching and professional development opportunities. Team members may enjoy the chance to shine outside of their normal role.

3.  Communication is the key

Start with an explanation of what is planned and why, then survey the team for suggestions and areas of concern. Explain when their feedback is required and keep communicating progress even if only to say what decisions are currently being made. Communication from the project team to management should be regular and give them clear, but focussed, decision making choices along the way.

4.  Focus on a strong structure

The framework for any structure is always critical for its ability to stand upright, so make sure you focus on this. With any strong adaptable system, you can easily adjust it to meet your individual needs.

5.  Stick to your company ideals

A clear vision of what your core values are will make decision making very easy. If you are finding decision making difficult, it may be that you are lacking clear direction for your business and you may need to put your project on hold and solve this first.

6.  Work with suppliers you can trust and who match your company ideals

Finding synergies with suppliers that you can trust and match your core values will limit your frustration because your expectations around problem solving will be met.

7.  Lead from the top

Be clear with owners and managers that they are the drivers and role models for positive change. If the management team are showing positive change behaviour and attitude then the team will follow their lead.

8.  Talk about how change makes us feel and what to expect

The links between change, stress and mental health are well known and don't be afraid to discuss these types of things with your team. At best there will be minor levels of discomfort and at worst significant stress. Discuss their pathways for self- managing discomfort and frustration versus communicating major stress points.

9.  Expect mistakes

Even the most well-planned implementation process will have bumps along the way, so simply adapt and quickly move on.

10.  Start swimming and then amend and fine tune as you go

It seems clear that change is here to stay but you can't get started until you take the first steps. By allowing a reasonable timeframe, involving the team, communicating and adapting, you can turn a difficult situation into a learning and development opportunity that benefits not only your customers and owners, but your team as well.

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