Business efficiency is all about working smarter, not harder.

Your company may be running smoothly, but ensuring your business makes the most of its resources for maximum productivity and customer experience isn’t easy.

For business owners and decision makers alike there are many factors that prevent their organisations from running more efficiently for example:
Dependency on certain processes and resources
The use of more resources than required
Poor balance between productivity and resources
An over-ruling barrier to business efficiency, however, is fear of change.

Why do businesses struggle so much with change?

Every market sector, regardless of how niche or long standing it is, experiences shifts in its environment. In today’s fast-paced, consumer-savvy marketplaces, businesses that cannot change or move with the times are deemed antiquated or old fashioned quickly.

Your company may be driven by tried-and-tested processes and well-honed habits. And while the order habit brings can seem more powerful and efficient than change with all its apparent risks, overcoming fear of the unknown and taking steps towards meaningful change is how businesses increase efficiency.

To combat these struggles, Phil Foster, managing director of business energy comparison site Love Energy Savings speaks to top business experts to provide the following tips:

1. Communicate with your team

Communication and transparency are key to overcoming fear and introducing the changes that make increasing business efficiency possible, according to Phil:

‘Whatever change you’re looking to make, engaging staff at all stages is important. If managed incorrectly, change can be unsettling and even painful. By communicating your strategy, you can alleviate any fears your employees may have as well as reduce your own.’

2. Understand where your fears come from

Understanding the basis of your business fears is a great place to begin, as Elizabeth McCourt, founder of leadership consulting organisation McCourt Leadership Group, explains, ‘Change can feel like jumping off a cliff with no net and the worry that no one will come with you. It’s important to take a hard look at the basis of the fear. Is that fear an untruth you’ve been telling yourself? Or perhaps a protective truth pushed to extreme or worst-case scenario paralysis?

‘Once we take the time to notice the basis of the fear, there is an opportunity to address it. Can conversations be had to articulate the fear and communicate the strategy better so that there is more support on a particular decision?’

3. Focus on the positives

Nigel Whiteout, founder of online sewing marketplace LoveCrafts, sees focusing on the advantages of change as an integral part of overcoming fear and standing up to your own corporate morality.

‘Accepting the need to cannibalise your own business to stay alive requires facing your existential demons. Does the effort of change bring new customers or sales opportunities? If so, embrace it. Businesses must accept that, without change, revenue will surely disappear to new entrants to the market who don’t care about your entitled sense of corporate self. To overcome this fear, businesses need to concentrate on the benefits of change and think of the past as a prologue of what’s to come.’

4. Include your staff

For Sean Mallon, Bizdaq CEO, gaining an insight from staff at all levels should also be a part of the process. Involving your employees can actually help to remove the fear of change for everyone.

‘Big changes are often made by senior management with no consultation with their staff. This can make employees feel unheard and undervalued. We found that, by discussing any changes with staff before they’re made and involving them in the decision-making process, everyone was much more receptive to change. This approach even improved the decisions we made.’

5. Provide support

Support after the implementation of change is as important as being transparent from the top down. Susy Roberts, founder of people development consultancy Hunter Roberts, says, ‘Learning to do things a different way and refocusing priorities ramps up the pressure on people who may already be carrying a heavy load. It takes time and reassurance for people to truly believe that a new way of doing things can be more productive and even make their jobs easier in the long run.

‘Managers will need to adopt a coaching approach to working with their teams, making it their responsibility to support people through learning to do things differently. Change must be embraced by the whole company for it to be successful. This means making sure everyone understands the vision and is clear on the impacts of change – not just on themselves but on other people.’

Change is inevitable for all businesses, but fear of the unknown shouldn’t stop you from achieving your objectives.

Phil Foster is managing director of Love Energy Savings

Further reading on the fear of change

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