Working with humans in coaching for development, getting unstuck, getting out of their own way, and other human pursuits, change is often a topic of conversation and activity. We are all different and most humans do not like change as being in a comfort zone comfort is the end of the journey for many of us. There are others who embrace change and even look for ways to create change if for no other reason than to do something different. How do these human elements fit into business change scenarios? In short, how can organizations make change more effective?
Change doesn’t come easily…or cheaply. Here’s a scenario: The Board or Executive Team, meet and hammer out their strategic plan and go back to work at their desks and begin putting the building blocks in place to reach the goals they’ve set. A few months, or a year into the plan, they suddenly discover that not only is change expensive, but it’s costly in ways and areas the strategic plan, well had no plan for. Every type of change comes with a price tag.
Employee Costs: Regardless of whether the change is small, drastic, incremental, sudden, planned, or unplanned, people will pay a price in terms of emotion and productivity. People handle change differently. Some will create havoc and slow the change process down through change resistance. Others experience stress as they may fear losing their jobs, or they may struggle learning a new process or technology, or they may express anger over the merge with a bitter business rival. These reactions cost your teams and business heavily in lost productivity.
Christmas, Hanukah, MLK Day, and St. Patrick’s Day, and other celebrations come once a year, every year. Some of these may cost us time, money, and other resources that we invest in their celebration. We know they are coming, they are all on our calendars. So we always prepare for them. Right?
Business growth comes in the form of higher revenues, more customers, through mergers and acquisitions, or maybe franchising. Regardless of the growth methodology, the fact is that businesses must grow or die. Growth brings change. So, we expect change and are always prepared for it. Right?
An executive client knows his organization is engaged in aggressive growth. However, when I asked how his department might change with the next two acquisitions, all he could replay was, “That’s a good question.” Well, yes, indeed it is. The fact that the thought had apparently not entered his mind was a surprise; and it’s especially surprising given the fact that he wants to be president of the company upon the current president’s retirement. So much for planning. So how can this executive better prepare his department for growth and change?
When your business is new and small, you may change business models often. Of course, this ends after you grow and become established. Not so fast. Organizations of any size can change their business model. Organiztions like PayPal, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Tiffany & Co. just to name a few have all found it necessary to change business models. Some changes were more radical than others.
There may be good reasons to change your business model. Beating the competition, what you have just isn’t working, trends, and the fickle market have changed are some reasons it might be necessary to change your business model. Other times, it might be a decision to cut losses for one business unit that’s dragging down revenues and sell it off. One organization simply doesn’t have the qualified staff to run a division that’s lipping along right now. You may think it an easy solution to just hire a staff, but they are in an area of the country that doesn’t have a good talent pool and it’s even worse for technical talent. This can pose a real problem for the growth of the organization.
You would be hard pressed to find one human on the planet today who has not been affected by some change – no, not just some change, but major changes to their life. Business is on the frontline of that reality. If anyone doubted the importance of humans to business, as consumers, employees, and other stakeholders, that doubt must be as dissipated as a morning mist when it meets the warmth of the day. The people in business who handle most challenges around your people are in Human Resources. Would you want to be the one handling all the changes around people in business today?