10 Essential Steps to Include in Your Change Management Process

Did you know that 80% of small businesses end in failure?

Sure, many of the businesses in the link above never got off the ground in the first place, but some of them did, only to fail in their later years because they didn’t know how to adapt to change.

When implementing any kind of major change to a small business, it’s essential to have a plan in place. That’s where a change management process comes into play.

Change management process is a fancy term that simply refers to the steps that need to be taken to successfully implement change in a business.

Knowing that a well laid out plan is the difference between success and failure can put a lot of pressure on you as a business owner.

If you’re a small business owner looking to change things for the better, but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we’ll define 10 key steps to any successful change management process, and tell you a few tips and tricks worth knowing.

1. Perform a Readiness Assessment

Before you do anything drastic or start writing out a plan, you need to first evaluate how prepared your company is for change. By performing a readiness assessment, you’ll do just that.

This test will cover a wide variety of factors, from your staff’s overall receptiveness to change, to financial concerns and everything in between.

Again, this is an important step that you should not skip. Knowing how much time and money you have to put towards making these major changes can prevent you from draining your resources. We don’t have to tell you what happens to a small business when they’re out of money…

2. Discover Which Areas Need Change

Once you know how ready your business is for a change, and how many resources are available for that change, it’s time to focus in on which areas need the change the most.

Maybe it’s the cooperate structure of your company, or the way day-to-day operations are handled that needs regrouping. Perhaps you have some bad eggs on your staff and you need to replace them with a few new faces.

Regardless of what change is needed and where, you need to identify these areas and decide which resources will go to each area. Some problems may need more attention than others, or some may need to be addressed sooner to prevent serious damage to your business.

3. Decide on a Timeline

Before you work on a plan to attack the areas of your business that have to change, you need to figure out when you’d like your change management process to be completed. Once you have a date in mind, you can work backward from that date and decide when and where to take action.

Sometimes, you can implement change in just a few short months. Other times, it may take longer to reach the goals you have set. Regardless, you need to have an ideal date in mind for when you’d like to be done completely, so you can prevent yourself from running out of resources.

4. Outline Your Game Plan

The actual plan you implement is a huge piece of the puzzle. Once you’ve reached that step, don’t be afraid to take your time crafting your game plan.

In fact, it’s a good idea to reach out to a consulting firm to ensure your plan is strong and has a good chance of helping you achieve your goals.

Create a detailed outline that breaks down every single goal you have in mind, and be sure to make it easy to understand. Enlist the help of others on your team to implement that game plan, so you must teach it to them.

5. Find and Train Your Leaders

As a business owner, you most likely often feel the urge to do everything that you can yourself. After all, it’s your business, and no one on your team will work as hard as you will.

…But you can’t do everything yourself, and when it comes to implementing a successful change management process, you will need a few key members of your staff to step up and help you out.

Find your leaders, the folks you can depend on to help you make these changes, and coach them up. Make sure they understand the end goal, and what it takes to get there, so they can help guide your staff along the way.

6. Focus on Communication

Regardless of how much preparation and planning you do, if you don’t communicate with your staff, your plan won’t work. That’s why it’s a good idea to have open discussions with everyone on your staff, to make sure that everyone is all in and understands what needs to be done.

You will need to communicate with your leaders often to make sure they have everything they need to get the job done, but don’t forget about the little guy, too. Everyone on your team should feel comfortable communicating with you any feedback or concerns they may have during this process.

7. Prepare for Resistance

To say that people don’t really enjoy change would be an understatement. If you have a plan to change the way things are done in your business, there’s a good chance that your staff will not be too happy about it.

Expect a bit of resistance and have a plan for how to handle it once it arrives. This is where communication comes back into play. If you make sure everyone’s voice is heard, it makes it easier to diagnose problems and correct them before they grow into larger issues.

With that being said, don’t let the pressure bend or break you. Be receptive, but don’t change things outright just because you’re hearing a little noise from your staff.

8. Celebrate All Your Wins

It’s important that you and your team celebrate all the wins along the way, no matter how small those wins may be. Acknowledging every bit of good that you can help boost morale, which is what your staff will need during the change management process.

What about if you get a big win? Have a BIG celebration! Don’t be afraid to show your staff you notice them their hard work. Let them know you appreciate them helping you make this transition smoother.

9. Revise As Needed

As time progresses, and your plan comes to life, you might need to make small revisions along the way. These aren’t large fundamental changes, just little tweaks to account for things you didn’t plan for.

This is totally normal, so don’t let it worry you too much. With that being said, unless you and your group of advisers agree upon it, don’t make too drastic of a change to your overall plan.

Stick to the script, be patient, and don’t expect to have everything go perfectly.

10. Review and Repeat

Once you’ve reached your deadline, it’s important to take a step back and analyze how close you came to reaching your overall goals. Of course, if you’ve met them, that’s a good thing and it’s worth celebrating.

If you still have a few areas you think need to be improved upon, don’t be afraid to start the entire process over again. Don’t settle for less than what you sought out for, and don’t be afraid to keep going until you’ve gotten the results you’re looking for.

A Successful Change Management Process

Well, there you have it! Those are 10 steps to a successful change management process, as well as a few things you should keep in mind when implementing one for your business.

Remember, before you start making changes, it’s important to prepare the right way. That means performing a readiness assessment test, analyzing all areas of your company and setting a timeline.

Once you’ve crafted a plan, and begun implementing it, communication is key. Talk to everyone, from your leaders to the people lowest on the totem pole. Celebrate your wins, prepare for some rough patches along the way, and don’t be afraid to try it again, either.