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As business owners, the past few months have resulted in fundamental changes to our livelihoods being forced upon us. The national lockdown has resulted in many businesses being put on pause, with others having to implement radical changes to their business structure. As a collective, we have adopted new ways of working, as well as providing new product and service offerings. With the lockdown restrictions starting to lift, and the government looking to kickstart the economy, the next step of this crash course in handling a crisis is change management. What changes need to be made in order to implement a robust plan to return to business as usual?
Faced with changes that are mandatory, in order to abide by government guidance, and chosen by your own organisation to re-define its purpose, and survival, post-pandemic. There is plenty to bear in mind when managing these inevitable changes. At the start of the lockdown, the initial changes experienced by many businesses meant there was little time to prepare. However, the changes we now need to incorporate can be approached with a more coordinated and considered approach. When implementing change management in any organisation, your employees experience both practical changes and personal transformations. They are required to adapt their mindset to a new way of working. But so too, does the organisation itself.
Now, more than ever, your organisation needs to address its internal communications. From implementing change to managing a mobile workforce, how you communicate these changes to your workforce is crucial. Throughout the process of change management, whether it has a positive or negative impact on your employees, your internal communication should cover some key points. It should explain the changes that will occur, and what that means for the business and its employees. Highlight any training that will be provided and provide channels to talk about overcoming challenges. And, where relevant, offer incentives for employees that enable the successful incorporation of the changes.
No doubt, you’ve already implemented changes to your business. Some that may become permanent elements of your business operations, whilst others that need to be phased out, such as reinstating your furloughed employees. With more time on your hands than you were initially given pre-lockdown, you can evaluate the impact of the changes you’ve already implemented. Retrospectively looking at what has changed, will allow you to reflect on how to make the most of the incremental changes we will see as the easing of lockdown restrictions continues. This will lead to the assessment, planning and mapping of the knock-on effects both mandatory and elected changes have had, and will have, on the rest of your business.
Another important aspect to review and address during this period of change, is how COVID-19 has impacted your target audience. Consumer behaviour and interactions has changed fundamentally throughout the pandemic. With no clear idea of when, or if, life will ever return to ‘normal’, assessing your target audience should be a priority. A detailed review of their characteristics, traits and behaviours, objections and frustrations will provide insight into what changes to implement within your organisation to continue to meet their needs.
Lastly, one thing to take from this pandemic is that, like many start-ups and tech companies have shown us, managing and running a workforce in the digital world we live in, needn’t conform to the conventional 9-5 office life. Flexibility through understanding the value of productivity over time-spent, implementing technology to support mobile workforces, as well as putting emphasis on the culture and working environment of your business are proven ways to encourage employee engagement and satisfaction. This, in turn, can improve customer satisfaction, resulting in being in a good position to ensure the survival of your business going forward.
By removing uncertainty, communicating effectively, and implementing changes, these calculated steps you’re taking should mean it will be business as usual again before you know it.
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