Change is the only constant

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Change is the only constant

“Change is the only constant” – Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus.

I get asked all the time by busy business owners, head teachers and managing directors… “Is it always this hard to implement change?” And of course the answer is yes. My view when Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United was that they wouldn’t win anything for the next three years. Coming from a family of gamblers I wish I’d gone to Ladbrokes at the time!

Running a business, a school, a hospital, a care home or anything for that matter, is like being on a journey. We, as people, are impatient when it comes to change and often struggle with a switch from the norm. Change is inevitable though and will happen if you make it happen. So accept there is a timeframe and feel confident that you can reach your destination. So in the journey of change, what are some of the twists and turns you might encounter?

  • Culture – Culture comes from the top. Managers install a culture which filters down. If you are going through change at the same time as the MD is leaving or retiring then this is a double whammy.
  • Accountability – Typically, the larger a company is, the more limited their accountability becomes. Managers do not know their rights to manage and have been promoted because they have good technical skills.
  • Management – This is simply getting the job done through the use of resources. It is a totally different skill set to what’s needed at a technical level. Using the football analogy again- just because you’re a brilliant footballer doesn’t mean you’re going to be a brilliant manager.
  • Vision – Set the vision and get everyone to buy into it. It makes the HR a lot easier as you recruit and discipline in line with the vision.
  • 80/20 – Your business is only as good as its weakest member of staff. Do you know who this is? Do you have systems in place to identify poor performance and reward the stars in the business? And what do you need to do to get that extra 20% back on track?
  • Performance – Know your data and how you’re doing. Who are your biggest customers, how much is the pay bill against turnover? Implement KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – reward the workers and deal with the shirkers.
  • Get started – Have the difficult conversations you’ve been putting off, as sorting one HR issue often has a ripple effect and some issues resolve themselves. Sometimes the most important conversations are the hardest to get started.