Change Management Is for Big Companies, Right?

It is true that larger organizations often face an urgent need for change for any number of reasons—acquisitions, new ownership, new executives, technology disruptions or breakthroughs, new competitive threats, etc.

As a leader of a smaller company, you also will get to the point where you and your team hit a wall. You just can’t seem to find a way to unlock further growth. Attracting talented new employees is tough. The tried-and-true methods no longer work. Change is inevitable. Most of us need help to get past sticky spots, and to chart a path forward that reinvigorates the business and your employees.

If you do a search on Amazon for change management, you get more than 20,000 listings! Yes, much has been written on the topic and there are many consultants with their own methodology to navigate change.

One of my favorite book titles is: Change is Good . . . You Go First by Mac Anderson and Tom Feltenstein. Change is, in fact, hard for all involved. It takes energy, stamina, drive and persistence to come out on the other end of the process.

There are several change management models that have gained adoption by businesses. Here are my two favorites:

The first is from McKinsey and is particularly helpful if you know that you need to change but aren’t sure how to attack the problem.

Start by examining your strategy to assess if it still makes sense for where you want to go and how you plan to get there.

Next look at your structure with a clean piece of paper and decide if you have the right blueprint in place.

Then assess your systems to ensure that they can support your goals and aspirations.

Collectively decide if you need any tweaks in your company style—how you approach your customers, and what kind of image you want to project.

Importantly, take a hard look at your staff to be sure that you have the brains and muscle to get the job done in the new reality. If not, crank up the recruiting efforts ASAP.

And while you are at it, be deliberate about the skills that your company needs to take it to the next level. You may conclude that training your existing team may not be the best answer.

Pull it all together with a statement about your shared values—the things that you believe are fundamental to your new game plan.

The model is thoughtful and hits all of the right issues.

A second approach is from Harvard professor Dr. John Kotter. His award-winning model focuses on the “people” aspects of change, which is vital to making change stick.

In his work, the best place to begin is to create a sense of urgency since many on your team may not see the need to change.

Second, put together a coalition that can be champions of change in your company.

Next, shape your strategic vision—the “what, where and why” that form the pillars of your ambitions.

Importantly, share that vision and story broadly to get your employees on board. If they buy into the vision and understand what it will take, it will be much easier to shift course and speed.

But since change is in fact hard, make deliberate efforts to remove barriers and eliminate roadblocks. Those actions alone will show your team that you are serious about change and not just talking about it.

Focus on getting some short-term wins to show folks that the vision and strategy have merit. Singles and doubles (in baseball parlance) are perhaps even better than home runs in the early going.

But then do everything that you can to sustain or even accelerate change. Having momentum on your side makes it easier and gets you to your year one goals faster.

Lastly, set your changes in stone so that they stick. It is human nature to backslide a bit, particularly when the next set of wins gets tougher.

None of this is straightforward or even intuitive. Putting your best folks on the core team to drive change forward is critical. And take some things off their plates so that they have the capacity to handle this draining and challenging work.

Want some help?

At Forge, we thrive on helping clients get to the next level and digging deep to understand your business. We are here to be your partner, your trusted advisor, your devil’s advocate. And we will always bring the conversation back to strategy. How do we best get you onto the best path—one that has the greatest potential to get results.

Importantly, we are pragmatic, focused, nimble, smart, and energetic. We get assignments done well, and quickly.

Take the first step to a more successful business today.

1.    Hit “LET’S TALK” to schedule a free 30-minute discussion. No pressure – we promise.
2.    We’ll provide real-world case studies showing the process in action.
3.    If we’re a fit, we finalize details and get started!

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