These eight questions are your checklist for change

Change is the only constant, but you can make it a success, writes Neil Bradbrook

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Benjamin Franklin famously said: “When you are finished changing, you are finished.”

But when is the right time to ask for help?

COVID-19, Brexit – and now a recruitment crisis – have heaped massive change on business. Some have already failed – and others may be starting to struggle as the government’s furlough scheme ends.

A lot of our clients ask me: do I need to hire an expert, or should we just do this ourselves?
Cash is tight and, in a crisis, DIY solutions are enough to fix most problems, most of the time.

But there are eight common situations where getting in an expert to help manage change can be the difference between success and failure.

1. You’re not sure of the solution?
You know what your problem is and the outcome you want – but you’re not sure how to get there. Especially in smaller businesses, we’re used to doing everything ourselves. But like in life, I don’t do my own plumbing for a reason. Fixing things is often best left to the experts.

2. You’re not even sure exactly what the problem is?
You know you have a problem, because you feel some of the symptoms. And you know where you want to be. But you’re stuck.

3. It’s complex change?
Most change is small. But increasingly, it’s become more complex. Often change involves lots of moving parts, interdependencies and multiple stakeholders with different needs. So the change you’re grappling with might be a combination of processes, people and technology.

4. You don’t have the time or resources?
We’re all busy in business – and sometimes just don’t have enough staff to deliver the change that’s needed. Trying to fit this alongside your day job can mean failing at both. Even the biggest corporates with huge internal teams need to hire in outside experts to deliver their change challenges.

5. You need an external perspective?
Sometimes we are too close to our own business. An impartial outsider can bring clarity and a fresh perspective.

6. You need to be one step removed?
Difficult staff changes – like redundancies – are the toughest challenge for business owners and managers. Sometimes it can help to be one step removed and have a third party take the lead. This way, you can still be there for your team as a separate point of appeal or support.

7. You need to get it right first time?
Regulatory and compliance changes need to be done correctly from the off. The same is true of any other change that directly or significantly impacts people. If you can’t afford to get it wrong, get an expert to guide you from the start.

8. It’s already gone wrong?
It happens. Things go wrong. This is part of the journey to getting it right. Maybe it was the planning, unexpected events, or an incomplete solution. If it’s gone wrong and you don’t know how to fix it, get help.

The message is that change is continual – and essential for continued success. You and your team will manage most of it on your own.

But when you get stuck, don’t be overwhelmed. If anything on my checklist for change rings true, don’t try and do it on your own. Getting in an expert could be the change you need to stop the slide – and start moving forwards again.

As Dory tells us in Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming!”