As large companies plod inexorably forward, small businesses have the opportunity to dash ahead. Flexible and agile – like a lithe boxer dancing around a lumbering opponent – small businesses use their size to their advantage when in competition with the big boys.
Adding too much structure and process to a small business seems, on the face of it, to be removing this key advantage. However, change and change management is just as big an issue in small companies as it is in big ones.Accepting this and dealing with it does not necessarily mean hamstringing your company.
Change management policies have been seen as overly prohibitive and not relevant for a business until it reaches a certain size – say over 100 employees. There is a certain truth to this – holding formal change management meetings involving three or four employees may seem excessive.
In a small business where the employees meet regularly and everyone feels that they are ‘on the same page’ and headed in the same direction change management may look very different. However, it still needs to be seen.
If you are meeting regularly you are probably discussing and implementing changes anyway. Without holding a formal meeting or setting in place an agreed upon process you are already informally doing the job. What remains is to take that extra time to document these agreements.
In the unlikely event that there is any miscommunication within our small group, you have a process to refer to. More importantly, if you have the ambition to grow your business, you have begun creating a process history for the way change is implemented.
A history of change management is invaluable when the time comes for you to grow your infrastructure. By the time several products or services being developed and offered, staff and teams are working remotely or each original employee now manages a department, you have a documented list of systems and processes to ensure that your operations run smoothly.
If you cross the threshold and are no longer considered a small business, no change management plan will magically appear on your desk. Creating one from scratch for a now not-so-small business is a big task; evolving your existing process is far easier. Artificially bolting on a new process is also more likely to have the hamstringing effect mentioned earlier. A process which has evolved naturally with the business as it has grown is likely to be appropriate, compatible and efficient.
Change management is not just for the big companies. It’s a process that needs to grow alongside your business and it’s never too early to plant the seeds.