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Managing change in business

Change happens in every industry, being able to make decisions effectively is a key component of management and will allow you to successfully lead a team of individuals. The first stage of this is to set a clear and precise definition of your goal when making decisions.

The vast majority of decisions require you to solve the problem in order to achieve success. To do this you must know how successes is measured and how it is possible to decide if the problem is solved.

Think carefully about what is required when making a decision and the ideal outcome, this will allow you to compare your results to judge their effectiveness. Setting clear criteria that you can use to judge your success will ensure that the business can determine how well you have performed and if further action is required.

SMART Objectives

Without carefully planning what is required from a decision process it will be almost impossible to know if you should continue to make changes. You and your team must be able to come up with clear and measurable targets which can be monitored in an on-going process.

These objectives should be SMART objectives:

  • Smart.
  • Measurable.
  • Attainable.
  • Realistic.
  • Timely.

By ensuring that all objectives are carefully planned and can be categorised as SMART targets means they will be much easier to track and monitor. The objectives could be related to revenue, staffing, productivity or how much money a company is looking to save with the next decision that is made.

Manager writing out SMART objectives ready for implementing change

Monitoring workflows

Most companies require different workers to complete tasks before having a final product to sell. This means that a workflow must be put in place to assess what has been completed and what is still to be done by employees in the company. The management of these workflows can be very difficult as a range of things can interrupt production in a company.

Setting guidelines and deadlines

Ensuring that each task is correctly scheduled and enough time set aside is the foundation for all workflows. Without the ability to plan projects and manufacturing processes it can be incredibly hard to stay on task and give realistic completion dates. The use of GANTT charts and careful planning will make sure that the project is correctly planned from start to finish.

Meetings and observations

Meeting with members of the team and observing how they are doing is an important aspect of managing workflows. This allows you to make any suitable adjustments as and when they are needed and observe the methods used. Meetings can be scheduled at critical times in the workflow to assess progress and deal with any issues with the help of the collective.

Check work products and logging productivity

Without actively checking the outcome it is impossible to judge progress. Work products must be tested to ensure they are to the right standard and the quality should be monitored and logged. Doing this will give you vital information on the quality being produced and the success of the methods being used.

Recording progress and errors

Constantly recording progress made and any errors and setbacks that can occur will ensure you can target areas for improvement. Without this you may become confused how much of the workflow has been completed and what else needs to be addressed for the project to be a success.

Set targets

By setting high, yet realistic, targets, a company can create a valuable product. These targets should be set at the start of the workflow and everything should be done to achieve them.

Remember that they are only targets- not achieving them is not the end of the world but it is nice to have goals that will help the workforce to stay focused. Targets will usually be easier to set once you have previous experience in a particular area as you can determine how things went last time and come up with very realistic goals.

Monitoring and reporting on performance

Once the standards for a business have been set in place, performance must be reviewed and assessed.

The way in which performance is evaluated in a company can vary but may include:

  • Measuring output of an employee.
  • Customer feedback.
  • Colleague feedback.

It is very important that your team are told about the way in which performance is to be measured and how you will assess this. Without doing so, staff may become nervous and suspicious of what you are assessing them for.

Being very clear and open with those that you work with is the only way to develop a trusting relationship that enables employees to feel supported and understand the need for performance evaluation.

Team leaders implementing change in business

Measuring outputs

Looking at the output of an employee is probably the most common way of assessing performance. This can be done in a variety of ways and will involve setting specific boundaries that each person should work towards.

Measuring the output of performance could be related to the amount of sales that someone makes, the items that are manufactured or the number of customers served. This type of measurement could include quality standards also this means that a certain amount of output must be to a specific level to discourage employees working for a large quantity but not enough quality.

Customer feedback

Gaining feedback from customers is a great way to monitor the performance of employees. Obviously, this type of performance measurement will be used only with students working in the customer service sector.

Understanding how the employee is conversing with customers and their success rates gives invaluable feedback to managers. This could include measuring a reduction in complaints, customer satisfaction levels and the support that is provided to consumers. Often this type of performance evaluation process will be used with those working in services or dealing directly with the public.

Colleague feedback

Gathering feedback from colleagues on the performance of others is very beneficial and will allow you to assess how a person has worked with the rest if the team to achieve goals that are set.

This could be by interviewing others, observing how the person interacts with colleagues or monitoring conflicts and complaints made by those around the individual. When gathering this information, it is important to do so anonymously so that colleagues are able to express their feelings without repercussions in their relationship with the person.

Timetables for monitoring performance

When measuring the performance of those in your team, setting timetables and ensuring that goals are time-restricted will make them very clear. When setting goals and assess an individual you may use long or short term timetables.

  • Short term goals – This type of timetable will involve things that are easy to fix and can be done so within the next few months. They are very specific and will introduce new working practices, strict goals or targets for individuals that they already have the skills and knowledge to achieve.
  • Long term goals – A longer timeframe attached to a work goal will usually require additional training or new skills to be developed. This type of goal will be set to be hit in more than 6 months’ time and could relate to gaining promotion, taking on new duties or hitting sales targets for the financial year.

Supporting change in the workplace

Whenever there is a change made in an organisation, team leaders are expected to play an important role in communicating this change and ensuring other employees comply.

Each person within an organisation must play a role in supporting change. Individuals must work to ensure that the company as a whole continues to expand and grow as times change. People themselves can be incredibly influential during this time and will be able to assist the organisation as changes are implements.

Manager supporting employee with new tasks in the business

Ways in which the individual can support change

When changes are implemented within an organisation, the success is usually related directly to the willingness of staff. How they approach the situation can have huge impacts on whether or not the proposed change will work. Individuals who are extremely averse to change and do not wish for things to be altered can become a barrier to change.

Barriers make the change process much more complicated and difficult. It is the individual staff members that influence the success of different methods, equipment and ways of doing things within an organisation so learning how to accept and work with new developments is crucial.

There are many ways in which people can support changes in the workplace including:

  • Undergoing more training and developing skills to ensure they are capable of dealing with differences to their everyday routine.
  • Being open-minded and welcoming to changes that are made.
  • Always being positive when discussing things with colleagues and having a positive effect on the team which you work with.
  • Placing your fears and scepticisms to one side and realising that your own mental attitude will usually play a large role in the success of changes.
  • Embracing the change and looking for the positive things that come from alterations to the work environment.
  • Being a good role model to younger or less experienced members of staff throughout the entire process.

Preparing for change in the workplace

As we have already discussed, change can happen in a variety of different ways. It is important that people are prepared for this. Simply expecting change to be easy and that you will be able to cope with any obstacles can be fairly naive.

It is much better to prepare yourself and other staff in advance. This will allow you to consider what may happen and how your working situation could be affected.

Some examples of change and the way in which individuals can prepare include:

  • People can prepare for a change in equipment of software by doing some research on the type of new systems coming into play. This will help you to work efficiently after the change and adapt to how things are different in a faster timeframe.
  • If you are moving offices or to a new department within the company, there are several things that you can do to support the change. This may be a case of meeting with your new team and getting to know them prior to the change being implemented or getting to know your new surroundings in advance. If you are moving offices, then ensuring that your existing space is tidy and organised will make the moving process a lot smoother.
  • Should a change require you to begin doing new jobs and take on tasks that you may not be comfortable with then you can ask to undergo special training in preparation for when things are altered. This will enable you to get to grips with your new tasks as soon as possible and ensure you do not waste too much time learning trivial things and being unproductive.

Involving staff

Being able to work with those in your team and implement changes together is very important. The incentives for staff should be clearly explained to all team members when changes are brought into effect. Each person must understand why the changes are being made and how they will benefit their own working lives.

Without this, people can be dubious of how the changes will be of benefit to them in their role. Staff will enjoy changes and be much more open to things being altered if they are included in decision making processes.

When staff are against change there will often be a reason such as:

  • They have had no prior warning of the changes that are to take place and are unprepared for this.
  • They believe that the way things are currently done are better.
  • They are scared or do not want to change their approach to the jobs they carry out.
Group of workers discussing possible organisational change for the company

The effects of change on employees

Changes that occur within a work environment can have an impact on employees and those that are involved within a company. These changes can be quite dramatic and may be seen in a positive or negative way according to each individual that works in the company.

Some members of staff or people in a company can be averse to certain changes and may not want or feel the need to alter their approach to situations. However, this is normally a fear of the unknown and thinking the new way may be more difficult. We will now look at some of the main positive and negative aspects that occur when change is implemented in a business environment.

Positive effects of change on people

  • Change can boost morale in a company and make a person’s job more interesting.
  • It may involve the use of new products and technology that can be exciting for employees which will make their position easier and enable them to work more efficiently.
  • Differences can affect the work environment and improve the conditions for staff.
  • Staff may be able to learn new skills and increase their understanding of new technologies and methods.

Negative effects of change on people

  • Some staff may completely lose their jobs as they are no longer needed.
  • Staff hours may be reduced and this will result in being paid less.
  • More training may be required to keep up with change which can be difficult to fit into staff schedules.
  • Staff can be anxious or stressed with new situations and changes in the workplace.
  • Some members of a team may need to be moved elsewhere if departments restructure.

Problems during times of change

Whenever things change in a work environment there is always the risk that it may not go to plan. Things that are altered may be planned and assessed prior to the changes being made but when it comes down to the alterations coming in to effect it may be the case that they simply do not work.

When this happens it can be incredibly frustrating and, at times, incredibly expensive for organisations.

Problems can occur in a number of ways such as:

  • Staff not knowing how to use new systems and being given inadequate training. This will reduce productivity and most likely increase stress for people in the company as they are unable to carry out their duties efficiently.
  • Errors and issues with new equipment. Sometimes it may be the case that new equipment can be faulty or may be installed incorrectly. When this happens it can take a long time to ensure that the equipment used is right for the task and running correctly.
  • Staffing issues. When new staff are taken on or old staff are moved after a change it may be hard to get teams to work together productively. This may be that new employees are not able to gel with existing ones right away or that certain people relied on outgoing members of staff for certain tasks and are unable to perform them on their own.
Builder struggling with work implemented in the business, contacting his manager

Responding to change

Being able to alter your approach and adapt to changes is very important for a company. Some organisations can spend huge amounts of money on changing the way in which they work and expect it to pay off in the long run otherwise, it is just money wasted.

Change contributes to the improvement of a company the majority of times and management will often have very strict deadlines and reasons for implementing their different ways of doing things.

Improving efficiency or the way in which things are done in a business, as well as the products or services that are on offer, is very important for the vast majority of companies.

Changes will usually fall into two categories:

  • Those that improve the income for a company (such as offering new products or expanding into new markets).
  • Those that reduce the amount of money being spent by a business (also known as cost cutting). Both of these categories can have massive impacts on a company’s revenue and people should be able to see the bigger picture when changes are put in place that affect their jobs.

Reviewing the effects of changes

Businesses need to review and check the effects of change often. This is so things can be monitored and you can ensure changes have been beneficial.

New working practices can be a very large investment for companies and will often have specific targets on the amount of money that needs to be made. This makes the reviewing of effectiveness even more important as shareholders and managers must be able to see a return on the investment they have put into a company.

Reviews can be evaluated in many different ways and people should take into account a variety of aspect to review the effectiveness of change including:

  • The difference in revenue.
  • An increase in productivity.
  • A reduction in waste.
  • A reduction in people being absent.
  • The skills of the workforce.
  • Staff morale and performance.
  • Stress and working conditions.

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About the author

Eve Johnson

Eve Johnson

Eve has worked at CPD from the start, she organises the course and blog production, as well as supporting students with any problems they may have and helping them choose the correct courses. Eve is also studying for her Business Administration Level 3 qualification. Outside of work Eve likes to buy anything with flamingos on it, catching up with friends, spending time with her family and occasionally going to the gym!



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