Managing changes

Very often, changes turn out to be an inseparable element of a modern enterprise. After all, a company does not operate within some sort of void, but in a dynamically …..

Very often, changes turn out to be an inseparable element of a modern enterprise. After all, a company does not operate within some sort of void, but in a dynamically changing environment. This is why every organization should develop appropriate systems of managing changes and of adjusting to these new conditions when it comes to production or services. The market is responsible for generating changes that appear in an enterprise. Managers should quickly identify the new conditions that arise in their company’s surroundings and should flexibly adjust the profile of their work to the new situation. In this article, we present the factors that initiate changes; we describe the nature of changes, and show ways of implementing them into an enterprise. Thanks to our short guide, the management of changes will become an integral part of a well-designed company policy.

The factors that cause changes

As it was stated earlier, all changes that occur on the market make it necessary to implement changes into our organization. Generally speaking, every factor that reduces our company’s capabilities in acquiring the necessary resources to create and spread our products or services requires the implementation of some specific changes into our enterprise. However, such a situation is not the only reason for introducing something new.

Changes can be forced upon an enterprise by its main competition. If they change the price and assortment policy, they naturally impose reorganization on their enterprise. Providers, clients, and substitutional and complementary goods can affect the changes at a company. Providers force changes through increasing or lowering the prices of products, or through the rotation of assortment.

However, there is no doubt that clients have the biggest influence on what happens within an enterprise. Consumers, by means of their shopping choices, determine which products an enterprise should sell and at what cost. The situation is similar when it comes to services. Every company should assign high priority to adjusting its goods to the tastes and preferences of the target groups of consumers. It is no different when it comes to determining prices.

Changes among business organizations are also implemented due to such factors as:

The changes in strategy
The changes in the organization of people and machines
The changes in work time
The changes of working conditions etc.

Regardless of a company’s approach to changes, it has to accept them to a certain extent and try to predict what may happen in the future. What is more, a company’s reaction to changing market conditions should be immediate and regular. We cannot allow our enterprise to react only to some of the changes. Such an occasional approach is a clear path to failure and, in consequence, company dissolution.

The management of changes should become a part of the normal strategy of every enterprise. Moreover, the process should be carefully thought out and show a high level of organization. It would be great if it was possible to predict a given change in advance. In such a case, a company could more easily adjust to what is currently happening in its operational area.

Managers who work on predicting changes should, at the same time, work on establishing appropriate programs based on a strategy – programs that would include the most probable scenarios of events related to the development of a company’s surroundings or the market in which it operates. In order for an enterprise to function well, it is essential to work on improving the ability to adjust to the changes in production and technology. Furthermore, it is also very important to improve the general organization of the work of employees. Managers should find an effective way to motivate their subordinates to accept changes and to adapt to the new situations.

The forms of probable changes in an enterprise

When implementing changes, every time we should consider the requirements of economy, sociology, and technology. Generally speaking, if any change is to occur, it should aim at significantly reducing the costs of an enterprise in relation to human resources and finances alike. Moreover, the changes should be commonly accepted by the staff.

We can list at least several forms of most probable and most common changes that occur in companies. They are as follows:

A new relation of a company with its surroundings. Such a situation is usually accompanied by a change in the nature of contacts that the company establishes with others who operate on the same market. An enterprise has to redefine its areas of influence and work organization.
A change on the highest management level and a new mode of supervision. Such a change occurs due to struggles for power within a company. In such a case, changes influence the aims and alliances of those who are interested and the distribution and allocation of company resources.
New internal connections and methods of action which are necessary to implement due to company’s long existence or the employment of new managers. Here, changes have to influence the coordination of work, the structure, and the habits that are common within the enterprise.

We have just mentioned the possible forms of changes. Now, we are going to write a few words about their different character:

Program changes – changes planned by a company which mainly refer to its own actions. Changes of this character are usually carried out on the basis of some previously made analyses which were aimed at both – the company’s external and internal environment. Program changes help us get prepared for the upcoming future changes.
Development changes – such changes are highly desired in every enterprise because they help increase the level of organization and the effectiveness of functioning of the company as a whole. This happens thanks to better adjustment to the changes of environment and the right choice of time. Most often, development changes are related to aggressive and creative actions.
Preventive changes – their aim is to block the ability of competition to reduce the effectiveness and lower the position of our own company. Thanks to these changes, it is possible to avoid or reduce the threats connected to external influence exerted upon our enterprise. Therefore, we might say that preventive changes are of defensive character, and that they are simply our reaction to external changes. Their aim is to help a company survive under difficult market conditions.
Changes forced upon by the market or some specific groups – these encompass company reactions to what happens on the market. Forced changes are about the necessity to adjust our company’s actions to what happened in its environment. Therefore, we might say that these are ex post facto changes, i.e., changes that occur after something happened. Generally, they are far less effective than ex ante facto changes – so the changes implemented before the appearance of a new situation on the market. If changes are delayed, a company falls behind its competition.

The mode of carrying out changes in a company

The preparation, description, and execution of changes have to be carefully thought out every time. In the case of enterprises, it is best to establish some patterns of action and follow them every time a need for changes arises.

Below, we describe 10 steps on how to plan and carry out changes as effectively as possible:

Step one

A vision of changes – the manager responsible for the implementation of changes should have a vision of what these changes are to bring. It is important not only to establish specific aims for changes, but also to describe the basic ways of their realization.

Step two

The implication of changes – we should encourage others to implement changes into our enterprise. We should create the whole dynamics of changes within the company. It is important to cause the legalization and acceptation of the upcoming vision of changes. The next thing is to point to the possible future upgrades to the new changes.

Step three

Allow changes to pick up speed – it is essential to determine the structure of projects and the methods of implementing changes to them. Here, we consider only these projects which can facilitate, support, or speed up changes.

Step four

The supervision of changes – focus on the skillful management of changes so that the process avoids any obstacles.

Step five

The realization of the planned changes – the realization of the vision of changes, so bringing them to life. We are to generate the previously assumed economical and quality results through changes in the organizational structure, in the behavior of personnel, or in the company culture.

Step six

Encourage employees to participate in the process of change – all employees should be allowed to participate in the process of implementing changes which affect them directly. By doing so, they can significantly enrich the vision and help in its realization.

Step seven

The management of emotions – every change implemented into an enterprise entails some emotions, like opposition, disappointment, aggression, or on the contrary – enthusiasm, cheerfulness, etc. It is important to breach all negative barriers and, at the same time, to strengthen the positive emotions that accompany changes.

Step eight

The management of changes through controlling and the division of roles – we have to reorganize the ways in which we exert control if they are to be coherent with the upcoming changes. Managers of higher levels should also be involved in the process of implementing changes.

Step nine

The development of new competences among employees – a need arises to prepare special technical trainings as well as some courses in interpersonal relations. Here, we aim at creating optimal conditions for employee participation in the process of change implementation.

Step ten

Effective communication – we should work on establishing mutual systems of communication because they make it easier for everyone to exchange views and data. In consequence, they also favor changes.

Usually, a change meets at least some resistance from employees because they fear that their situation is going to be worse than before. It is imperative that we thoroughly inform everyone about the details of the changes as lack of information does not help in their realization and management.