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Does your business have lots of ideas about how to change? Have you drawn up an ambitious list of New Year’s resolutions to help your company make the most of 2021? We all use the impetus of the old year coming to an end to state our good intentions and ways in which we are going to better ourselves over the next twelve months. Yet, how many of us are still on the bandwagon, come December?
That’s where change management can be extremely effective. Organisations that are facing change, whether self-imposed or as a result of flux in the world around them, can often go off course if they cannot deal with the fall-out of switching to a new direction. By studying the discipline and principles behind change management and applying them to your own company, you can be better equipped to weather the storms of change as they approach you in 2021 and beyond. Here’s what you need to know.
Know why you need (or want) to change
Start by asking yourself some questions about the change you plan to make within your business. Why do you want or need to change? Why must it happen now (or whenever you are planning to take action)? What would happen if you don’t make the change? What happens if you do act, and it doesn’t work out? Write these questions and answers down and discuss with your team and/or a trusted external advisor or change management expert. This will help you work out if you really do need or want to act at all.
Know what you want the change to achieve
Linked to the point above, once you have decided that you do need to make a change, take time to discuss what you want it to achieve, and whether or not you think it is realistic or likely to make the difference you are hoping for. Should you be investing your effort, time and money into making this change, or is there a different way to approach the problem, issue or ambition? If relevant, make some projections into potential cost implications, profit margins, HR measures and expansion plans to see if the work involved would return a suitable investment. Only by defining and committing to your stated goal can you really start to commit to the change and the long-term planning involved in making it happen.
Know how to prepare for change
Once you have worked out that you need the change to happen and you understand what you want it to achieve, you can start preparing to make it a reality. Work out what you need and how you are going to fund it – both resources and manhours. Draw up a realistic timetable, building in time for slippage and unforeseen set-backs. Make sure you have the right know-how, training and, if relevant, qualifications to make everything work. Do you need to seek permission or formal accreditation? Who else needs to know about the change, internally within the business and outside in terms of governing bodies, customers, suppliers and investors?
Know how to describe the change
Communications can make or break a business and any changes that it wishes to make. Ensure that your communications strategy is clearly defined to promote the key positive messages around your change, in advance of it happening. Work out the vocabulary, tone of voice and communication channels that you are going to use and how these choices will affect your various audiences, both positively and negatively. Talking of negative communications, if your change is going to result in some people not being happy or supportive, e.g. if changes in personnel are involved, have a plan in place to mitigate against any bad publicity or loss of goodwill that could ensue. People can feel very uncertain in times of flux, volatility or change, and their feelings must be acknowledged and handled with due sensitivity and care.
Know how to actually make the change
Finally, after all the analysis, planning, and communicating, it’s time to actually make the change. Carry out your plans, made earlier in the change management process to ensure that everything that needs to happen actually does. Be confident in your plans and stick to your agreed schedule as much as you can to minimise disruption and reassure people affected that everything is under control. Follow the advice of any programme or change management experts you have drafted in, as their knowledge and skills will help you ease the transition even more smoothly. Keep people informed at every step and invite their input to encourage engagement and support.
Know what it has all achieved
Finally, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your change management labours. Celebrate any successes and deal with any concerns quickly and correctly to keep them manageable and to stop them derailing the longer-term plan. Keep records that chart the effects of the change, such as sales figures, website hits, positive (and negative) customer reviews and employee feedback. Keep people informed about progress and any future plans to build on the changes already put in place. Then, when you find yourself at the start of 2022, you can hopefully look back on a successful year of change.
Ethical procurement has become big news across many industry sectors, with the way that a supplier conducts its business and treats its own employees as significant a deciding factor as its prices and profit margins for many companies involved in the tendering process. Ethical sourcing has a number of advantages, including encouraging suppliers to work at the highest levels of responsible and sustainable business operations, extending ethical practices to delivery and health and safety protocols and reducing risk all the way along the supply chain.
As we start a new year, perhaps it is a good time to make switching to, or increasing your ethical procurement methods to play your part in raising standards, safeguarding vulnerable workers and protecting quality standards of products and services around the world. Here’s how to get started on your own ethical supplier database.
Do your research
Make sure that you know what an ethical supplier database looks like, namely which companies should be on it and why. Online research can get you started in drawing up a shortlist, but do bear in mind that an organisation’s website and social media platforms will only say what the company (or its PR agency) wants you to know about the way it operates, so dig a little deeper than simply dropping by for a quick read. The same goes for any brochures or sales pitches a potential supplier may provide you with. Check their records with Companies House, research the individual directors, check for any customer reviews – good and bad – and see what kind of media coverage they have been getting.
The internet has enabled us to find out more and be more connected to each other than ever before. It also enables rapid communication, instant updates and live following of news as it happens. Use this to your advantage to keep track of your suppliers’ operations and stated ambitions and values to check they still align with your own. There are several procurement software packages, such as database management systems and price tracking technology that can help you keep pace with your suppliers’ progress, contracts, vision and commercial behaviour.
Informal, in-person audits
No-one can get the full picture from desk-based research. It’s time to get to your feet and go and pay your potential suppliers a visit. A formal, pre-arranged appointment will give you some ideas about how this operate, but the best way to find out for sure about their factories, workers, health and safety and other procedures is to drop by unannounced. Find out if the company is happy for you to do this at an early stage in negotiations, as any reluctance can be a red flag. Keep things informal – no company will operate at its full potential if teams are feeling judged and under scrutiny. Rather, work to establish an easy, mutually trusting working relationship that enables you to ‘drop by’ for a chat without it seeming suspicious.
On the subject of a trusting working relationship, take time to find out how your suppliers react to collaborative working. Are they open to any suggestions or constructive criticism? Are they happy to share resources, working practices and to be open about how they finance their products and services? Do they show interest in the industry best practices and regulations that mandate your own business operations? Would they be willing to work with any already existing suppliers on your database to combine services, for example, or to share cost-savings through bulk orders? Again, any reticence to co-operate may be a warning sign.
Take it personally
Keep in regular contact with your suppliers and get to know them personally. It is crucial to know and understand how the individuals with whom you are working tick. Make sure they see you as a rounded individual too, rather than the name on a contact sheet to call only if there is a problem. If a supplier knows you better, they will be more likely to call you with a concern, rather than try to cover it up, which could lead to costly or even tragic consequences later on. Just as you want to be sure that your supplier is operating ethically, so too should they seek reassurance that you are also working within legal parameters and have the wellbeing of your employees, customers and the wider communities in which you operate at the heart of everything you do.
Finally, make sure that your ethical supplier database adds genuine value to your business. Keep it up to date and carry out regular analysis to ensure it remains diverse, sustainable and an asset to the company. Your database should help you increase market share through careful selection of sustainable, capable suppliers and it should display innovative thinking, integrity in all aspects of your procurement activities and a careful eye for detail. Your supplier database can give outsiders a clear idea of your priorities, geographical reach and level of risk as well, so give it plenty of consideration and always use an ethical approach.
OnPay doesn’t have all the tools and adds ons that Intuit offers, but in exchange, it provides a simple pricing model with the straightforward payroll necessities that especially small businesses need.
Did you know that 1 in every 3 small business owners gets penalized by the IRS for payroll errors?
Here are five of the best payroll options for small businesses:
- Intuit Payroll
Looking for the barebones when it comes to payroll services? Or do you want a fully-automated, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink payroll service instead? No matter where you fall on that spectrum, Intuit Payroll has an option for you.
OnPay doesn’t have all the tools and add-ons that Intuit offers, but in exchange, it provides a simple pricing model with the straightforward payroll necessities that especially small small businesses need.
Gusto, previously known as ZenPayroll, is an intuitive payroll service for any sort of small business.
What does “HR for Humans” look like? Just ask Namely: one of the biggest new human resources services around.
Sage takes payroll services a step further with Sage Payroll HCM, a cloud-based app that allows small- and medium-size businesses to do a lot more than just manage payroll. It’s a central hub for human resources, organizing and simplifying the process of hiring, onboarding, and retaining employees.