It was one of those mornings. I breathed the amazing fresh crisp air, and savoured the beautiful sunshine on my back. The stunning views showed trees resplendent in a blend of green and newly golden leaves. Everybody was smiling and enjoying the opportunity to wear summer clothes  before the autumn really set in. Change is natural in business, managing change is something you need to be good at in order to maximise your team’s productivity. Here are 7 tips to help you with managing change. Are you as good at managing change as he seasons?

Picture Courtesy of Rebecca Taylor

What is it about good autumn days?

The weather was no better than most of our summer days, yet everybody seemed happier! It’s as if sometimes we enjoy the autumn and spring more than when the weather is the same all the time. Change is all around us and we are enjoying it.

Looking forward to change in your firm.

If a business owner’s job is anything, it is about change. Helping your team to embrace and productively engage with change is possibly the main thing you can do as the owner of a small professional firm. Unless you are King Canute you can’t prevent change; you can only ensure your firm adapts with it and profits from it. A few examples…

  • Online accounting means less processing work.
  • Outsourcing means less processing and more of something else (you choice as to what).
  • small law firms adapting to the legal services act, ever increasing professional indemnity insurance premiums, changing client demands
  • Ever greater computing power and the use of algorithms adapting what clients can do for themselves and what they want from you
  • Time pressures
  • Social media and how we market ourselves

Is that enough to be getting on with? Whatever you think of the things happening all around us, they’re happening. So one of your most important roles is managing change, deciding how you’ll adapt and then helping your team to do so.

What happens during change?

People go through an emotional journey as they initially fear the change, fight it, gradually explore it and then engage with it. While your team are going through that change cycle they are less effective than normal. You may be able to help your team move more quickly through the change process. There are many change models around, the simplest has 4 phases:

  1. Denial: You don’t want the change, probably deny it’s needed. Uncertainty often makes people focus on what they know, and what they know is the past. There tends to be shock and denial, maybe some fear.
  2. Resistance: The emotions now move onto anger, confusion and the fear increases. People may not co-operation and may argue more. This is often how your team may express their emotions.
  3. Exploration: Team members start to understand (at least rationally) and explore what it might mean to them and the firm. They haven’t fully bought into it yet though.
  4. Action: A much more positive phase where people start to move into action

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7 tips to help your team deal with change

  1. Realise your journey. You’re trying to change things in your firm; chances are you’ve been thinking about it for a while. Perhaps you denied it initially too (one Accountant  I know denied the relevance of cloud accounting for ages, became very positive, and then struggled to “sell” it to his team). You’ve probably now moved into an action phase. You’re team aren’t there yet, don’t react negatively to that – realise you’ve had more time than them.
  2. Act accordingly: Your role is to help your team move to the next stage, your actions tailored to where they are and helping them move to the next stage. This can help them become positive, more quickly.
  3. Speed: Different people move through the “change curves” at different speeds, some of your team may be positive while others are still resisting! Treat them differently, according to their stage.
  4. The denial stage: Keeping your team informed, helping them understand what’s happening and providing some external information can help them move from denial. They’re in shock; help build their sense of security.
  5. The resistance stage: Showing you’re listening to their concerns is important, help them to see that there may be some possibilities.
  6. Exploration: Help them explore, give them information. Help them see possibilities and what actions may be relevant.
  7. Action: Keep the team on track, allocating one to ensure things are happening, create positive energy around what people are doing, perhaps a chart on the wall. Use the positive energy before it becomes business as usual again.

You might like to also read How to get staff to change – work smarter/ better/ more productively Business change is as common as the seasons changing. How have you helped your team recover from change more quickly?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

Autumn scene in Northampton Photo used under creative commons licence. For more information, click here.