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The only constant is change

Change is always with us and it was Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who said - in Greek obviously - "the only constant is change." Templeton Green (the business coaching firm we're working with) also use it in one of their straplines but I think they probably borrowed it from Heraclitus!

 

galaxy

And today more than ever we see change in organisations happening at an ever faster pace and at an ever more frightening pace. And often, the people responsible for these kinds of strategic and operational changes, particularly in smaller businesses mostly forget that the people who work for them are the ones who will most often feel the impact of the changes most acutely.

 

As accountants it's dead easy to identify the need for change - very often its the numbers that tell us something is wrong and that in itself is a great reason for getting them sooner and more frequently in todays uncertain climate.

But having identified that you need to change, you have only really started the process. And although there will be the old guard out there who think,

 

 

"its got to happen so we'll just b****y well get on with it", for a number of reasons not least of which is employment law, this might not be the most successful plan!

 

The biggest cause of failure in change management is not managing it properly:

 

  1. Front line staff are seldom involved in designing what needs to change - thats not the same as deciding to change
  2. The larger the organisation the more cumbersome the process is and this can lead to people taking short cuts which never work and often can lead directly to overall failure of the change.
  3. It's not just or only about putting people in different jobs or "letting them go". Real change needs new thinking, new ways.

Trouble is that most organisations don't have the first idea where to start or how to start. So here are a few good ideas to get you on the way:

 

  1. Phone your accountant to get help for you. Even though I have a good knowledge of how it should happen, I've never implemented large scale change management programmes for many years so I'm a bit out of practice. However I know the people who do this stuff day and daily in different organisational types.
  2. You will need to talk to your teams so get someone to help you with that especially when there are difficult messages to be given out. Look, the simple fact of the matter is, people KNOW things need to change. They just need you to tell them what and when and how. It is seldom a surprise in the way that an earthquake is a surprise. You'll find that they accept change more readily than you would think.
  3. Getting a clear plan in place for the change period will help especially if the team buy-in to it.
  4. The three C's: Communicate, Communicate and Communicate. Its the most important thing you can do.
  5. Encourage staff to be open and honest about how they feel - better out than in my mother would say.
  6. Finally once you know who will be left - and there's a whole lot of HR activity and employment law activity wrapped up in that small phrase "once you know" - you can get on then and build and strengthen the new teams.

You'll probably find that some team development work like Business Coaching will help with motivation, goal setting, performance standards and business growth to mention but a few. I know some people there too.

 

Well that's a first - an accountant's blog post with no figures and only the word "numbers" mentioned once.

 

Sign of the times I guess!

 

JohnF

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Marv on December 30, 2011

Ho ho, who wluoda thunk it, right?

George McQ on August 28, 2010

John,
My memory of Heraclitus is what he said (in ancient Greek, of course) is a trifle more profound: that the river continually changes, but still remains the same (often simplified as "you can't step twice in the same river"). He was interested in the unity of opposites.