Business Etiquette / Managing People / Selling Skills



Nothing will ever stay the same, in fact, we don’t want things to stay the same. New blood, fresh ideas, growth are just a few reasons why change is great. However, many business leaders approach change management apprehensively – worried about having to persuade reluctant teammates to accept new ways of doing business. While many people welcome change and tend to embrace it more when they have the chance to collaborate in it.

Determining why, what and how you need to change, and involving your teams in each step, will help you manage a smooth change process, strengthen your business and retain your key team members, business skills and knowledge.

Change comes in many different colours and shapes.

There are many issues to consider in managing business change – whether the changes you’re planning are minor or major. The first step in managing your teams through change is identifying the type of changes that are being made to the business. This step will help you decide how to plan your change process and support your people effectively. There are 3 major types of change.

Developmental change

Developmental changes are those you make to improve current business procedures. As long as you keep your teams well informed of changes, and give them the training they need to implement process improvements, they should experience little stress from development change.

Examples of developmental change include:

  • improving existing billing and reporting methods
  • updating payroll procedures
  • refocusing marketing strategies and advertising processes.

Developmental change may be your first step to making further changes to your business that will help you meet the demands of your market. Managing these small steps well demonstrates to your team that you are taking a sensible, measured approach to change. When making developmental changes, it’s important for you to:

  • explain to team your rationale for the changes
  • skill your team members to use new processes and technology
  • show your team your commitment to minimising the impacts of change on your business.

Transitional change

Transitional changes are those you make to replace existing processes with new processes. Transitional change is more challenging to implement and can increase your employees’ discomfort.

Examples of transitional change include:

  • experiencing corporate restructures, mergers or acquisitions
  • creating new products or services
  • implementing new technology.

The ‘transitional’ phase of dismantling old systems and processes and implementing new ones can be unsettling for team members. When making transitional changes, you need to:

  • clearly communicate the impacts and benefits you foresee as a result of your changes
  • reinforce to your team that their jobs are secure
  • capture the views and contributions of your team in making your changes
  • regularly update your teams on the steps you are taking to support them through the change and train them in new systems.

Transformational change

Transformational changes are those you make to completely reshape your business strategy and processes, often resulting in a shift in work culture. These changes may be a response to extreme or unexpected market changes. Transformational change can produce fear, doubt and insecurity in your team, and needs to be very well managed.

Examples of transformational change include:

  • implementing major strategic and cultural changes
  • adopting radically different technologies
  • making significant operating changes to meet new supply and demand
  • reforming product and service offerings to meet unexpected competition and dramatic reductions in revenue.

Transformational changes will usually involve both transitional and developmental change – where businesses recognise that they need to overhaul the way they do business. When making transformational changes, it’s crucial that you:

  • develop and communicate a well-defined strategy that explains the approaches you are taking to change and the goals you are setting
  • continually reinforce your rationale for the changes
  • plan and methodically implement new business systems and approaches
  • involve your team in all phases of change discussions and planning and communicate regularly throughout the process.

Engage your team through change

Your team may invest themselves in their role in the business. Be aware that their jobs may contribute significantly to their financial security, identity, sense or purpose, self-confidence and professional development. Changes that affect their roles may have a big professional and personal impact.

Your team may have to work through a sense of loss. Fostering their understanding and involvement will help them work positively and purposefully on change tasks. Consider these tips for engaging your team in the change process.

Engage your team during the planning phase

Start involving your teams early in the change process and establish clear points for their discussion and input.

Involve your team in changes that affect them

Seek their input in decisions where you can and factor in their views. Remember that your team members have a close knowledge of your systems and processes and may have valuable suggestions to make.

Help to manage loss

Change means people lose something. Through the change process, your team will lose familiar processes and elements of their role that give them confidence and security. Help your team make a good transition using discussion sessions designed to allow them to share their feelings about the changes, scheduling one-on-one meetings with appropriately skilled members of your management team, or by making counselling available to help teams work through their emotional responses.

Stay focused on the reason for change

Understanding the argument for change will help your team stay focused on what needs to be done. Repeat your ‘reason for change’ messages whenever you can – and link them to the steps you are taking – to help your teammates make sense of each stage of the change process.

Identify attitude barriers early

Use your management team and team leaders to identify early any attitudes that need to change. If you find any team member cultivating negative attitudes about the change process, meet with them directly to work through their issues and ask for a constructive approach to dealing with them.

Define the tasks well

Break down the change stages into smaller initiatives that are easy for teammates to follow and understand. Knowing what stage they are at in the change process will build their confidence and sense of security.

Build a culture of continuous improvement

Always be looking for ways to improve your business processes and performance, and invite your team to share their ideas and observations for improvement. Organise forums and online contributions to capture and recognise their input and celebrate your shared successes. Your steps will help your team recognise change as a positive part of driving continuous improvement and build their morale and investment.

This guide describes different types of change, explains the importance of managing a smooth change process, and offers advice on motivating your people to work together in making business changes.

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