I talk a lot about reflection and review. That’s because it is hard to know where to go if you don’t know where you have been or what you have learnt along the way. I push for learning from past challenges and opportunities to move forward into the future. What worked well, what didn’t and what would you do differently next time.
Recently, many clients have said how the costs of running a business just keeping mounting and owners are struggling to keep up and make a genuine profit.
When a business is in growth mode, or a period of change, the costs and investment you are making is different to your day to day running costs. The challenge I see is finding the right amount of change to make before you decide to make more changes.
It is important after change to allow for consolidation.
This is where the real learning happens and you begin to see whether your changes have had the desired effect on the bottom line. Remember, your bottom line is a lagging performance indicator. Allow for the dust to settle and come to terms with the new way of operating.
Having more people, new technology or a different way of operating takes time and loads of communication and team work. Make too many changes at once, or don’t have good communication in the team, mean road blocks or friction occurs. The people and systems are overloaded. You lose productivity and gain conflict.
A situation I come across frequently in my career is when new employees really impress in the first 2-3 months of employment. The owners want to promote them or change their jobs straight away, only to find that once promoted the problems start to appear.
When you have a star employee, allow them to consolidate and learn what your business is about before rushing them into another new role.
You want them to really understand the culture of the business and the processes that can happen throughout the year before you change the goal posts. In my experience it can take 9-18 months for someone to feel at home in a new job. The time frame comes down to the nature of the role, work environment and complexity of the business. Most small-medium businesses you will find between 7-13 months may be more realistic.
It is important to bear in mind post re-organisation of roles too. You will want to allow 6-9 months for everyone to come to terms with new roles, recover from the stress of change, as well as assess the real effect changes in job roles and responsibilities have on your processes. You don’t want to rush this as you may find that some thing is slipping through the net when it is too late to fix it.
We’re halfway through the year (can you believe it?!), and it’s always a tempting time to make a load of changes at once. June and July can be a quiet time of the year compared with the busy summer months.
Pacing yourself may be hard if you are a fast adopter of change and like to move onto the next thing without much downtime between. You know who you are! Just remember being the leader means you also have to have followers to be successful. Slow down and take a breath so the others can catch up.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you have to make a load of changes all at once, make sure you have the right people around the table, you have the resources to cope and that communication is great.
With change brings added pressure and stress on your existing team and systems. You may need to run the old with the new for a period.
When contemplating change, rather than just doing it, think it through. Plan it, test it, implement and then consolidate and review before doing more.
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