Recap: Change Management for Small Businesses
Change is a constant in life. Organizations of all sizes must adapt to market conditions, customer preferences, regulatory changes, or more at some point. However, knowing these changes are coming and preparing for these changes are two different matters.
To help small and medium-sized businesses like yours plan for these events, Mineral sat down with two change management experts in a recent webinar. Susan Anderson, Chief Services Officer at Mineral, and Stacy Harris, Chief Research Officer at Sapient Insights, spent some time answering common questions and best practices for small to medium-sized businesses.
Here are some of the highlights of their conversation. Visit our resource center to catch more of Mineral’s insights.
How do you define change management?
Susan: “At the heart, change management is about understanding what processes, technologies, or organizational changes are coming and ensuring that you’re intentionally managing your workforce, customers, and suppliers to understand what’s coming and how things need to change. So simply put, it’s managing that change of proactively going from one state to the new state.”
What do you need to keep in mind during change management?
Stacy: “Identify the big change and ensure people are prepared for it. What behavior shifts do we want people to make because of this change? We often forget that change has an impact on people. It’s not just about new technology. It’s not just about a new model for doing business or even a new location where the business will be taking place. It is about human beings and their reaction to that change. And so, we’ve seen a lot of emphasis over the last five years placed on the human component and the outcomes we want from a behavior shift.”
Why should business leaders care about change management?
Susan: “Change management is a core leadership competence. It’s a competency that leaders need to be teaching our managers what to expect, but also managing their teams through those new behavior changes. There’s the initial shock of a change that happens. But the muscle memory of changing the behavior is the heart of what will make that a sustainable change.”
Is Change Management a Continuous Process?
Stacy: “We see in our data that change management is a continuous model. Having a functional organization means that someone is always thinking about upcoming changes. Organizations that do this are also more prepared for the changes because they always have tools and things in place. We see about 28% of businesses under 500 employees with a continuous change management model in place for their organizations and about 35% of large organizations. These organizations are among the best prepared for change.”
What can leadership do to help with change management?
Susan: “At Mineral, we talk monthly to thousands of small and medium-sized businesses. One of the things that have been a constant for us is the ongoing need for leadership to anticipate change and continue to coach and monitor their teammates. There are a lot of stresses during transition: are they short-staffed, or are the customer expectations changing? Right now, the hiring landscape is challenging. Still, we’re seeing emerging as a core management principle, taking time to build these skills within your management team around anticipating and then supporting team members through their various individual journeys.”
Stacy: “I would agree. Our data has shown that organizations that invest in continuous change manager skills see a 15-20% increase in business outcomes. We’re seeing that year-over-year change management is the number one thing you can implement in your company to be seen as a strategic HR Function to get better business outcomes and more out of your investments.”
What is the first step in managing organizational change?
Susan: “I think it has to start with laying out who’s impacted. Don’t just think about your management team. Think about your employees who are potentially impacted by something that’s changing. But also, you’ve got suppliers. You’ve got customers, I mean, the whole ecosystem there. So don’t forget that. Anyone who might be impacted by any changes you’re looking at needs to be considered.”
Susan continued: “What I recommend is doing some groupings. Who are grouped in clusters like the high magnitude of change and then looking at, you know, how resilient are they? So that’s step number one. Who are your stakeholders? And then, before you get too far down, I’d say take a moment and validate your assumptions. It is easy for me as a leader to think I know what’s changing and how people will react to it. But I can tell you that 90% of the value of knowing how to anticipate what’s going to change comes from the line level. So, take time early on and validate what you think the impact will be to the changes you’re planning.”
What can leaders do to help implement change?
Susan: “When I worked at Fortune 50 companies, we would create these amazing champion networks where we would formally meet with them, get their take on changes that are coming. They would also sort of amplify back into their teams what’s coming. So, they were a bit of a champion in a smaller organization. This may be a little less formal. It may be your HR Business partners or your line managers, but develop a community of stakeholders that can be your champions, and don’t be afraid of pulling into that group, your biggest naysayers. And as scary as that sounds, understanding the less happy path in advance will set you up for success.”
What types of tools would you suggest to help manage change?
Stacy: “I would look toward your productivity tools. Suppose you’re looking at technology that helps you manage. In that case, you can look for anything with a communication component to manage seeing people open and interact with technology yourself. I would also say your project management tools that you’re using internally; if people are already used to using them, putting your change management efforts through that process, we see that works very well for many organizations. Much of the current HR Tech systems out in the market have really powerful workflow tools, and we often overlook that that could be part of our change process.”