Driving sales and cutting costs aren't the only ways to improve profitability. Effectively managing change in your business can also put more money on your bottom line. And you don't need a lot of resources to make it happen.
What you do need, though, is a plan.
Whether you're introducing a new POS system or adjusting operating hours, a change management plan can help you increase employee engagement and productivity. It will also ensure the changes enhance guest services rather than disrupt them.
So how do you get started?
Well, you can't go wrong using the template laid out by change management guru Dr. John Kotter. His research identifies eight steps for leading change. They all revolve around a central premise: you need to get your team on board, and keep them there.
Jasmine Marchant, the Human Resources Director for the Edgewater Casino in Vancouver, is successfully using that strategy as the business transforms into parq Vancouver. When the new facility opens in 2017 it will showcase two luxury hotel towers, the city’s largest hotel ballroom and conference space, eight restaurants and lounges, and a new world-class casino. The payroll will balloon to 2,000 workers, from 800.
“We’re in the process of changing from what we are today to what we are becoming,” she explains. "For this kind of massive undertaking, we needed everyone’s buy-in – from those working the casino floor and in our restaurants to management and executives at every level.”
Small businesses can follow Marchant's lead. Your operational changes may be on a much smaller scale but to succeed they require a similar focus on staff engagement. And at its core, engaging your employees is all about two-way communication.
Be sure your employees understand the need for changes, your goals and timelines, and how staff will be affected. This requires more than sending out a memo. Explaining it all in person is more effective, and encourages your staff to make suggestions that may improve the process and outcome.
Most of all, be empathetic. Put yourselves in your employees' shoes, remembering that the prospect of change can scare many people. By taking their perspective, you may see potential obstacles and find ways to get around them.
You should also look to identify staff members who can help champion the changes. Your employees may respond better if the message about change comes from peers.
And speaking of delivering the message, be sure that you are in constant communication with your staff.
Marchant uses an impressive variety of tools to do this, including:
- engagement surveys
- orientation programs on the company’s culture
- quarterly Town Hall meetings
- co-workers coaching peers
- daily departmental meetings
- a monthly HR newsletter
- a new intranet offering staff updates
- one-on-one meetings between managers and associates
“I believe we have an accountability to all associates to be clear on the changes taking place and how this may affect their positions,” she says. “In this process, I think it’s also important to communicate what’s expected of them as a result, and to keep them engaged throughout. "
For small businesses with limited budgets, informal sessions such as chats over coffee can accomplish similar goals.
No matter how you communicate, it's essential to regularly check in with your staff as the changes progress. Some firms use an employee focus group. Others use easy-to-fill out staff surveys. No matter what feedback you get from the front lines, be sure to follow it up with them. Employees who feel they have been heard may become advocates of the changes.
Finally, remember that you are the leader of change in your business. So whether you're introducing new technology or changing some forms, remain positive and motivate your people.
After all, showing them how the changes will be good for them will be good for your bottom line.