The one thing you can be sure of in managing a business is change. This holds true for pet care services as much as any other business. New competitors, changing regulations, new pet health concerns and yes, new technology.
Yet we humans tend to have a natural fear towards change. We resist change, and place ourselves as victims - rather than 'agents' of change. This leads to paralysis, and presuming worst-case scenarios. Your staff gets competent and comfortable in their job, and a change threatens their competence.
One of the main concerns I hear when consulting with folks interested in our software -particularly those who have been in business a while and using other software - is how they will convince their staff to change 'their ways', that is, their habits and procedures from what they are doing now, to what they will do with new software. Sometimes this becomes a complete barrier and deal-breaker to embracing new software like ours - and the business goes nowhere!
Change management involves creating a cultural mindset that change will be a positive influence on the business, employees and customers.
Some focus the 'science' versus 'the art' of change - the science being the 'mechanics' of the change, perhaps involving a change of processes, technology or metrics, whereas the 'art' being how the change is engaged and implemented among the stakeholders involved (staff, customers...). Certainly both are important (especially with respect to technology), but forcing change down people's throats is not fun, and it's not sustainable.
Without a doubt, changing technology like operational software will indeed involve also changing some processes. You may abandon some processes, and add others. Some will become automated, and some will require a change in the 'way' employees do things. Thus, the 'art' of change is as important to your success in implementing new things in your business.
The key here is to act as a 'change agent' or 'guide' to lead your team and stakeholders through the process - to reduce resistance and increase engagement in the process and outcome.
A few tips:
- Consult with your peers within - and outside - of the industry. See how they have managed change in their business. Read about change, listen to blogs - anything that can help prepare you to be the change agent.
- Develop a plan - include items such as how to engage stakeholders in the change process, how you are going to transition from your current state to what changes will take place. Communicate this plan to your employees and customers. Then LISTEN to their concerns and feedback. You don't have to agree, but letting them know you are listening will help reduce any resistance to the change.
- Celebrate the success you had with the old system - this leaves your team feeling appreciated for the work they have performed, and will help prepare them for success working with the new system.
- Follow-through with your plan - demonstrate your commitment to your decision to change., assess your results and celebrate the new results with your team. Encourage people and show gratitude for their engagement.
So, as you enter the next phase of change in your business, how will you approach it? What 'barriers' do you face in implementing the change? How will you address these? How can we help you with managing this change? - Andy