Success for most small businesses means growth. But that can come with growing pains. As you change your technology, expand your team, or adjust management strategies, your employees may feel like they can’t do their jobs effectively. Managing change in your growing small business is the key to making a smooth transition to the next level of success.
Change Brings Stress Across the Company Organizational Chart
No company can experience significant growth and maintain the same roles, responsibilities, and rosters. As the demand for your product or service increases, your company will need to expand or grow more efficient to meet it. This could mean:
- Hiring new people
- Dividing up duties and responsibilities
- Adopting new procedures to improve efficiency
- Implementing new software or technology to automate tasks
- Reorganizing teams to better distribute skills and resources
But growth can make employees uneasy. Often, growing small businesses can experience significant turnover or employee uncertainty as key workers struggle to see themselves within the company’s new vision. To keep your talent while bringing in new employees, procedures, and technology, you need to be sensitive to your employees’ needs and responsibly manage change within your business.
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Techniques for Managing Change
No matter the scale of the changes you are making, managing change can help you and your employees weather the transition and reap the benefits that come with growth.
Don’t Resist Change
Small business owners often resist change. If you have found a method that works or a team you trust, you may not want to take a chance on a new thing. But avoiding risks also avoids the potential rewards. As your business gives way to busyness, it may be harder to set aside time to make strategic growth decisions. As demand increases, so do the pressures on your staff. If you resist change you could begin to see burnout in yourself and your employees.
Give Employees a Voice in Managing Change During Periods of Growth
Understanding what needs to change, and how, should not be an exclusively top-down decision. If your small business is growing, your employees likely know where the bottlenecks are, where additional staffing is needed, and what changes would improve their workflow. Invite your employees to suggest changes. Even if you say no to some of their suggestions, involving them in the process will give you a clearer picture of their needs and make them feel heard and respected.
Communicate With Staff Early and Often
Poor communication is a common problem in change management. Business owners may surprise their employees with changes in technology or processes, without explaining their reasons. If your employees don’t understand how changes will affect their jobs – including potential benefits – they may resist it. Make sure to communicate early and often as you consider implementing changes and provide employees certainty about their future in the company whenever possible.
Avoid Too Much Change Too Quickly
Once you decide to focus on company growth, it can be easy to get carried away making changes. But too much change too quickly can make it difficult for your team to adapt. If you need to make several changes to facilitate company growth, prioritize them and roll them out gradually. Make sure your team has time to learn to use one new tool or process before introducing another. Otherwise, you may find your employees start to look elsewhere for work.
Provide Support for Employees Struggling with Change
One of the most common mistakes in change management is failing to provide support for employees. If your employees aren’t trained on the new system, they could struggle to use the tool and miss the new features that made the change beneficial in the first place. A training session could save your employees frustration and make better use of the new technology.
When the changes you make are procedural or personnel-related, training and mentorship becomes even more important. Bringing your employees along with you into the next chapter is essential. But if newly changed policies are not adequately explained, they can be poorly implemented, resisted, or ignored entirely. Employees struggling with the change may need additional assistance to adopt the new policy and understand its benefits. An organizational consultant can help. By explaining the changes, answering questions, and providing training on new processes, a consultant can help you improve your systems and get buy-in from your team. Investing in that training now can bring everyone together, make the most of your changes, and prevent the loss of skilled employees who feel like they can’t keep up.
David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 30 years’ experience helping startup and small business owners manage change and train employees. Contact us to meet with David to create and implement changes that foster growth today.