Not many (if any!) entrepreneurs would say that it’s been business as usual over the last few months. In fact, most business owners have never seen anything like this pandemic-induced economic shutdown and likely never will again. (And hope they never will!)
Unusual circumstances can, however, make us aware of otherwise unnoticed opportunities. Learning how to accept, approach, and manage change can help ensure that your business will survive in the present and thrive in the future.
A tool to transition through change
Change management (CM) is an approach that anticipates and attempts to mitigate organizational change in order to help a business adapt in an ever-changing world. Change management helps “guide how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes.”1 Ultimately, CM methods help a business redirect or redefine the use of resources, business processes, budget allocations, or other operational components that create significant change for a company or organization.
Many, if not all, of these key business elements have been impacted over the last few months: business resources have been redirected in companies small and large (e.g.: Bauer switching from hockey helmet production to personal protection equipment); business processes have been redefined (e.g.: how we shop – obligatory hand sanitizing upon entry, personal protective equipment worn by staff, direction arrows on store floors); and budgets have been shifted from brick and mortar business upkeep to website development so companies can sell online.
How can your business successfully navigate change?
Using the momentum of change to grow your business
In the 1990s, a group of researchers from the Boston Consulting Group conducted a study to see whether they could identify what companies needed to do to successfully navigate through periods of change.
They discovered four factors that consistently predicted whether a change initiative would succeed or fail: duration, integrity, commitment, and effort; combined, they form the DICE framework for change management. Here’s how you can apply the principles of the DICE framework to your business:
Duration refers to the length of time the change initiative takes as well as the amount of time in between reviews. For example, as an employer or manager you might consider planning regular check-ins with your team. Schedule more than you think are necessary and give employees the option of “open” discussions and in-person, social touch points (via Zoom, if physical distancing is still mandatory in your region).
Integrity asks whether the team has the skills and competencies they need to perform during the change. For example, do your employees have strategies for working remotely (time management skills, technical knowledge about Zoom or other videoconferencing platform)? Can they work safely within this new reality (e.g.: are they aware of proper handwashing techniques or how to properly sanitize surfaces)?
Commitment refers to how willing staff and management are to make and maintain the adjustments required of them by the change. The disruptions caused by the coronavirus are numerous and are impacting people in different ways. How will you demonstrate your commitment to supporting staff during this difficult time? For example, you might check in with frontline staff to check on how they are coping with newly implemented procedures and whether they feel able to follow them or review internal policies to see which ones should be updated to reflect our current work reality.
Effort examines how much additional work will be required of owners, managers, or staff on top of their existing workload in order to effectuate the change. Business owners must be conscious of the specific ways each of their employees have been impacted by the sudden shift to remote work, part-time work, or even if they had to be laid off. For example, parents might feel guilty about a decrease in productivity levels. Technical support staff may be inundated with requests for help. Initiate and encourage open conversations with your employees to devise reasonable accommodations during this unprecedented time.
Change can be driven by several factors including shifting labour demographics, evolving business environments, accelerating technological change, and large-scale global events, such as the current pandemic.
Using the DICE framework, business owners can gain a clearer understanding of what steps they must take to ensure the success of their business during times of change.
- Managing effectively during change – Judd Hoekstra Podcast, episode 304
- “7 Rules for Positive, Productive Change”, book by Esther Derby