How To Manage Change So Your Growth Stage Stays On Track
And yet, so many forget that when you lead your business through a growth stage, you’re really leading a process of change. Most owners/leaders of small to mid-sized organizations generally know what they want to accomplish when they decide to grow. There is a tendency to trust their instincts and fly by the seat of their pants. This is misguided when you are aiming for a new class of customers, a new organizational model or expanding outside of your home region.
See, there are two things going on in your head. The growth plan is one and your emotions are the other. This is some serious multitasking. Now, add your responsibilities as leader, manager and worker. Now, if that’s not enough..there are other things like social media, marketing advice and possible opportunities mentioned over coffee or lunch.
Is your head spinning yet?
Managing change takes thought and care. Make it easier on you, your staff and your business with these recommendations:
~Make a plan and write it down. First, write down a clear description of your vision for this growth stage. When you can articulate it more effectively, it is more understandable for your staff and possible investors. After that, you and your team will have greater clarity to write goals that are specific, measurable, time-limited and assigned to specific person.
~Explain in everyday language. Forget all that business jargon. When I was in graduate school, I had a professor who insisted that we write our assessments in “plain English”. His point was that if you can’t explain it in everyday words, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Your staff needs to know what you have in mind and how they fit into the overall plan.
~Listen to your staff so you know their hopes, dreams, concerns and fears Think you don’t have time for that emotional stuff? Avoiding anxiety, anger, reluctance and other emotions will affect productivity. Create opportunities for them to tell you their thoughts and feelings about the upcoming changes. Some of your listening may be simply taking the time to notice the words they use or how they do their work.
~Know what you don’t know This can be hard for established business owners to admit. I’ve had clients tell me how they built up the business to the point where they could hire someone or expand their markets so they serve more customers. These are real accomplishments but it can be an ego trip to believe you always know the best choice of action or understand everything there is to know about business. Take the time to learn new material so you can use your skills better.
~Get someone to be YOUR sounding board I’ve written about this before here and in other blog posts. Perhaps you think that you sound foolish expressing doubts or apprehension about your leadership during this time of change. However, those doubts, fears and limiting beliefs can take on a life of their own and interfere with your performance. Get out of your head by joining a mastermind group, speak with a trusted business friend, meet with a mentor or hire a coach.
~Identify who is responsible for each task This makes your job a lot easier as you will know who to hold accountable. Since you do your share of the work, writing specific people into the plan will streamline the accountability process.
~Celebrate milestones A staff lunch, monetary reward or some other reinforcement highlights how progress is being made. Celebrating milestones keeps motivation high and momentum moving forward.
~Remember you’ve done this before It’s okay to feel daunted by your plans. This is expected. Remember when you first started leading your business? Talk about a growth stage! Recognize that you feel some trepidation about changing the status quo of your business and you have a history of managing changes in the business.
~Outside circumstances can speed up or slow down progress Your plan is not going to happen just as you wish. Some things are going to bog down progress while others are going to turbo boost your efforts. Neither are a judgement of your skills. Know where you have influence and pay attention to that.
Lots of things derail change projects
This is common knowledge in change management circles. Your awareness that you are managing change creates an environment where you and your staff will be more adept at responding to the unexpected, manage emotions better and see the growth stage through to its completion.
What would you add that helps small business owners/executives lead a plan for growth and change?
About the author: I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and trainer who guides established small business owners to be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Whether you are expanding in your own backyard or into another country, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about a new business opportunity to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.