How to manage change

The great Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”

This saying is especially true in the business world, where change is constant. Making sure that both you and your business can respond effectively is key to success, and learning how to manage change is a key skill for any entrepreneur.

Shifting goalposts

When planning for your business activities and future, you base those plans on predicted outcomes and conditions. For example, your entrepreneurial endeavours may lead you to introduce a product that will capitalise on specific market opportunities. When making such plans, it’s always wise to factor in a degree of uncertainty and put measures in place to help you adapt as quickly as possible if things don’t go as planned.

How to manage change and uncertainty?

Establish a vision and mission for the organisation. A vision and mission gives your organisation something to work towards. Change can throw us off course but, with a vision available and waiting to be referred back to, it’s easier to correct and adapt as necessary, while still remaining focused on the big picture goals. A vision is like a lighthouse in the middle of a storm.

Therefore, let everyone in your organisation understand the vision so that, collectively you can stay on course when change and uncertainty occur.

An image of a colourful butterfly, perched on a branch. Hanging from the branch are numerous pupae

View change as an opportunity

Change will happen, whether you like it or not. Rather than focusing on the negatives when it does, how about looking at the positives? Adopting this attitude might lead to unforeseen opportunities.

For example, businesses had to shut down, and send staff home during the pandemic. This impacted many businesses, for example gyms. The wise gym owners however, saw the opportunity to shift to online classes. While online sessions lacked the human touch, committed gym members appreciated such efforts and attended all classes. This helped boost the online profile of gyms while reducing overheads in running the gym facilities.

Identify the uncertainty as soon as it occurs and roll with it however you can.

Keeping your ear to the ground and always being on the lookout for new trends will help you devise solutions quickly. Most businesses fail when they react to change too slowly. For example, some restaurants kept operating during the pandemic, hoping that the lockdown wouldn’t occur. Smart entrepreneurs saw the effects of the virus and quickly switched to delivery services. Those who remained open illustrate how delays in the face of uncertainty are costly and minimise opportunities for adapting to change.

Minimise internal barriers

Are your internal systems capable of adapting to change? Do you have an efficient organisational structure? Besides helping you cope better with uncertainty, streamlining your operations also minimises waste in your daily operations. Too much bureaucracy makes it hard to remain agile when circumstances change.

Conclusion

Change and uncertainty are inevitable in life and business. As an entrepreneur, you cannot accurately predict future events or circumstances. However, you need to have in place ways to manage their effects. Remain focused on your vision, adapt as quickly as you can, and you never know, that change could be what propels your business to greater heights.

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Philip Keezer

Philip Keezer

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I’m Philip J. Keezer, president and founder of management consulting firm Grindstone Capital. Dedicated to hard work, learning, positivity and accountability.