Let’s be honest here. We’re all in business for one reason: to make sales, be successful and grow. Why else would we work so hard to get results?

But the ‘grow’ bit involves an awful lot of change. And change is a beast that needs taming in order for it to work effectively. This is where change management comes in.

Moving on from our recent blogs where we've explored the advantages of agile working, in this article we move on to explain what on earth change management is, why it’s important for a successful business and how you can manage change effectively in your business.

What is change management?

Change doesn’t happen in the organisation itself; it happens within your people. Change management is about remaining calm and resilient, and demonstrating strong leadership. But it's also about preparing your people for change, equipping them with the means to adjust and supporting them throughout the process. 

Your people are an integral part of change management and, as their leader, it’s down to you to make it as easy for them as possible if (and when) changes come about.

Some situations where change management may be needed include:

  • Team expansion
  • Change in management
  • If your business is falling behind
  • If a procedure needs fixing or improving
  • If redundancies are being made

Why is change management important?

Even though change management has been a recognised discipline for over 30 years, up to 70% of businesses are still failing at it.

But it’s important that as a leader you’re fully aware of just how important having a strong change management model is. Get it wrong and your entire company could suffer.

Here are some of the benefits that good change management can bring:

Retain your staff

Managing change is all about putting your people first. Keep this in mind and your employees will thank you for it.

Change is expected in a business – it’s essential in order to grow – but if you purposefully mould your strategy around your people, it shows you genuinely care. So, naturally, your employees’ trust and faith in you as a leader will sky-rocket and they will be far more invested in the business as a whole.

Be ahead of the market

Any market is competitive and changes quickly, often without any warning. If you’re prepared to tackle change from every angle you’ll have a much bigger advantage on your competitors.

Establish an internal process

Not only will having an internal process in place benefit your position in the market, it will also help you align your processes with your values and company culture.

It’s important you’re consistent with everything you do – and if the way you manage change reflects this it’ll reinforce your commitment to putting your people first.

Drive your business forward

Ultimately, managing change effectively will help your business thrive.

You only need to look as far as Silicone Valley-giant, Amazon: the company started out by just selling books, and today they sell millions of products around the world.

And it’s because of the way Jeff Bezos managed the changes along the way that the company has had so much success. He had a dream of Amazon becoming the biggest store in the world and he knew how to get there.

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Examples of good change management in business

Change management takes many forms and can be needed for a variety of reasons in business. Let’s take a look at a few examples of when some big businesses have needed to manage change and how they handled it.

British Airways

Let’s rewind to 1981. The big-player airline, BA had just welcomed a brand-new chairperson on board.

This new chairperson soon realised that the company’s structure was nowhere near as efficient as it could be, so chose to re-shuffle things a bit. He chose to do this through a tailored change management plan.

Unfortunately, this re-structure involved redundancies – and these are always tricky. But due to the way he managed these changes from the start, resistance to change was kept to a minimum. He was transparent with the entire business and explained his motive behind the restructure. Communication was his key tool – and without it his actions could have had disastrous consequences.

Nokia

Ah, the ‘brick phone’. We all loved playing 'Snake' on a 3310.

At one time, the mobile phone giant, Nokia had a firm grip on 40% of the market and was named top supplier of mobile phones. All was going smoothly.

But then something happened: the Smartphone was born. And Apple had beaten them to it.

Nokia had completely missed the opportunity to lead the tech revolution – and they were paying for it, big time. By 2012 Nokia were reporting over £2 billion in operating losses.

But they reacted with nothing but resilience. They confronted their failures and approached the issue with a productive mindset. Thus, they hired a new CEO and set out on their mission to pull the company out of the quicksand.

Eventually, they chose to sell their sinking mobile phone division to tech giant Microsoft and turned their attention to the networking and mapping side of the business.

From here, the company launched a brand-new programme to help them take advantage of the market (known as the Booster programme), bought out Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent, restructured and streamlined their infrastructure and sold off their mapping business. Nokia was now solely a network infrastructure provider and had gained billions in shareholder value. (Ta-da!)

Here are some other great examples of change management in the business world.

Every business is different

It’s needless to say that no business is the same and will all encounter different hurdles during a period of growth, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to managing change well.

But, if you keep your people at the forefront of your mind, lead the change well and stay honest and resilient, you’ll thank yourself later.

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