The Business Mentor approach to company change
In these unprecedented times, many small business leaders have had to reset their short and long term goals to align to the new ‘normal’.
Hopefully you’re able to make time to work ‘on’ your business and consider what the future looks like as opposed to working ‘in’ it at the moment. With so much change either happening now or required for the future, there’s always a danger that plans will be rushed and ineffective.
If you already work with a UKBM Business Mentor then you are half way there in getting the personal support you need to achieve well thought through plans. However, if not, there are some fundamentals that need to be considered and addressed to help with effective change.
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We’re all project managers at some point or another, whether it’s planning your next vacation or work on your home. Some people are better at it than others, so for those who may need a bit of help, here are some tips to achieve your goals and sustain the change.
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Our business mentors know exactly what outcome you need/want to achieve is key to considering what approach to take in executing change in your business. A Business Mentor can review your business can identify what changes you need to deliver.
For example, many businesses have already been required to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and Industry standards, so what they needed to change was clear. But for others, it’s not so clear at the moment (e.g. the Hospitality industry) as to what measures must be put in place to be able to open for business again. They will have to be working to a number of assumptions as to what these may be but nothing is certain yet.
Therefore, knowing the features or requirements (conditions or tasks that must be completed to ensure the success or completion of the project) and whether these are ‘fixed’ or not will depend on the approach you should consider as to how to implement change.
A Business Mentor will help you identify these.
In project management there are 3 variables that apply to all types of change;
- Time (what timeframe are you working to)
- Cost (what budget constraints must you deliver within)
- Quality (what level of quality must be achieved).
Based on the example above the fixed requirements together with the variables would mean that you would have wanted to work to a fixed timeline (to meet lockdown easing timelines) and you would have needed to work to a level of quality to meet the requirements for the safety of employees and customers/clients. The one variable that needed to be flexible here is cost, therefore, although this type of change is usually easier to deliver (as its very clear what the outcome should be) having the budget to make the change or ensuring the right people are available at the right time was probably a challenge for some. The plan for delivering this change has effectively written itself! The main consideration for planning is ensuring as soon as possible that all elements can be delivered to quality and timeframe. If not, then there will have to be a decision as to what compromises can be made.
For the Hospitality sector the uncertain requirements, together with the variables, means that the focus is on ‘time’ and the easing of restrictions for 4th July. As the requirements, quality and cost of the change are still not certain planning deadlines will need to focus on dates where clarity will hopefully be forthcoming. You should prioritise the conditions or tasks to ensure its clear what you can complete ahead of this and determine what requirements may be flexible in delivering after the deadline if necessary. Your plan will therefore be in stages with an initial outcome based on what you can deliver by the ‘clarity’ date. The outcome of a further stage(s) will need to be agreed once clarity has been provided. This type of change is more challenging and generally requires the business leader to be more ‘hands on’ in the day to day delivery of the change.
Now you have an idea of the approach to take you now need to set out the plan to execute. If you use a Business Mentor or Business Coach engage them in the process with you.
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Next steps: How to Plan for Success
There is more to delivering Small Business Change than setting out dates to deliver, agreeing a budget and the level of quality required.
Once you have established your features/requirements and have defined the approach you need to take, you should then consider how you will manage the change in your business. This will be part of the planning that you do and should be considered as early as possible.
There are three basic principles that you should work through:
- Preparing your business for change – this should have been done prior to starting any project but you need to establish the infrastructure to deliver change i.e. who or what are you relying on to make the changes? Your employees, your suppliers, your processes, your products etc. Be clear on why this change is needed and ensure you can articulate the benefits overall but also relevant to each of them.
- Managing the Change – who will own the delivery of activity? what communications will be required, how often and to whom? What is the required tone whilst driving this change? What feedback do you want/need? How will you track progress? What training is required prior to implementation? In essence, how do you ensure your business is ready to accept the change?
- Embed the Change – how do you ensure the change is sustained? Will there be a period of continuous improvement required? How will you ensure your employees, suppliers and customers/clients are supported once the change is implemented?
Identifying the above tasks (including those required to communicate and track progress) will ensure your plan can be developed effectively. Discuss this activity with your Business Mentor, should you have one, to gain their help in working through what is required for your business. Try and keep it simple. There are many questions you should ask yourself, however, the answers on the whole are fairly straight forward and should fit with how you currently run your business.
To help you in planning and tracking progress there are a number of project management software programs out there. These can be used not only for managing change but also to manage any campaigns etc. This is probably a great tool for business change that is more complex.
This software will generally provide a central place to set out your plan, manage tasks and deadlines and record overall progress, thereby reducing general email traffic whilst trying to operate your business as usual.
Although very basic, there is a software program called Trello.com which is completely free. It’s very simple to register and will help with setting out tasks, allocating them and tracking completion. Another free option is Clickup.com. It’s highly customisable and allows you to run multiple projects and as a seasoned project manager, my preferred choice. As a free tool it’s pretty impressive.
Good luck – although thorough planning and using a UKBM Mentor to coach you through the process will negate the need to rely on luck!
For a FREE Project Management checklist contact us using our contact form
UKBM has offices in London, Surrey, Kent, Oxfordshire, Bristol, Manchester and Hertfordshire and coverage across the UK.
With thanks to Jackie Ward, Project Management Consultant for helping us put this blog together and for creating the checklist.