Businesses rarely enjoy success for long by remaining the same year after year. Rather, only those companies that can weather a constantly changing environment can stay viable and profitable. This became abundantly clear during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic when agility and adaptability proved to be inextricably linked to business continuity, resilience and success throughout the worldwide disruption.
Change is unstoppable, and any manager who does not have strategies for adapting in critical areas is missing the point of what constitutes good management. Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs like Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s online MBA prepare managers to navigate change through developing skill with agile leadership, communication, critical thought, problem-solving and analysis-based decision-making.
In Today’s Business Environment, Responding to Change Is Not Optional
Businesses see all kinds of change, from new hires in management to the adaptation of new software-based solutions to full-fledged organizational changes like business process re-engineering, where businesses rethink the fundamentals of how they do things with the goal of dramatic improvement. From top-level company-wide changes down to localized, departmental or project-based changes, most company employees work in a constantly changing environment.
Therefore, any manager who ignores their role in managing this change will not elicit optimal team performance. How can good change management be achieved?
How to Help Your Company Cope With a Constantly Changing Environment
Your company may be changing because of something system-wide like mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Perhaps you are simply trying to instill more accountability into the company culture. Or maybe external factors like the COVID-19 pandemic or large-scale market disruption are forcing rapid change. Regardless of the catalyst, a few pieces of advice can help you manage that change competently and beneficially, considering long-term sustainability, agility and growth:
#1. Use the right form of communication to keep everyone in touch
Effective, clear communication is essential when guiding teams through change, be it positive change or crisis. Posters in break rooms, instant messaging and web meetings can replace some emails for company-wide messages. Many companies overuse email communication, making it easy for employees to miss important messages. Encouraging and modeling healthy interpersonal communication that demonstrates empathy is also necessary when a team’s culture and cohesion may be stressed to the breaking point.
#2. Take it slow
Incremental, iterative change in the business environment can be impactful in many situations. Organizational change often relies on transforming a company’s culture — and that takes time. Why? Because it requires a change in behavior, value alignment, engagement and motivation, all of which happens gradually.
#3. Be willing to pivot rapidly
This sounds contrarian to “take it slow,” but embracing rapid, disruptive change is necessary when external or internal conditions demand it. This is an important aspect of agile leadership, recognizing the time for methodical, incremental change as well as the time for prioritizing speed and adaptive — or proactive — pivots. Agile leadership during disruptive times involves a tricky balancing act of being empathetic, encouraging the diversity of thought needed for innovation and fostering collaboration, all while being action-oriented and decisive.
#4. Have a plan
A good plan is also essential to success when leading a team through change. A plan will help you focus your efforts where they will do the most good. Referring to tip #2, long-term organizational change can benefit from methodically planned steps and increments. Yet, as tip #3 implies, even in disruptive times that demand rapid-fire adaptation, planning for crisis response and resilience is necessary. Many companies that successfully navigated the business challenges of COVID-19 are now better for it, having created or stress-tested resilience strategies and crisis response plans.
Change is inevitable in the corporate world. And that change can be challenging. But there are steps you can take as a good manager and effective leader to prepare your organization for resilience and success in today’s rapidly evolving business environment.
Learn about the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi online MBA program.