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Change Management Cannot Be An Afterthought – Tips For Startup Owners

“People are very open-minded about new things, as long as they're exactly like the old ones.” — Charles F. Kettering

Although it is a known fact of our existence that change is inevitable, it is also quite obvious that many people resist doing things or thinking differently. This applies to every aspect of our personal growth and aging to the way people react to the changes in their professional lives. Innovation and effective change management in any company is a way to survive and thrive in a technology-driven market.

Business Growth Equals Bigger Changes

Change is challenging regardless of the organizational size but especially in a small business that experiences an explosive growth. While 50% of all new small businesses fail in their first year, if your business is not one of them, get ready for change. Those businesses who are ready to evolve need to remember that the larger the company is the more complex the changes are going to become. In my work with the entrepreneurs, I consult them on developing business growth strategies, and specifically designing the effective organizational structures. One of the biggest challenges I see is the management of employees’ perceptions of change.

When a new and excited entrepreneur opens a new business, he or she might be surrounded by the “like-minded” colleagues and friends who agreed to take a risk and were willing to put similar efforts into growing this business. Once a startup venture starts to look like a smashing success (and sometimes overnight), a business owner has to implement a variety of changes, including hiring new people and changing their operational processes. The same processes that worked at the start of your adventure wouldn’t be sustainable.

Change Is Inevitable But So Is Resistance

In the moments of expansive business growth, change might be required for every aspect of a business. As Robert C. Gallagher, an alumnus of Syracuse University and a free-lance sportswriter, said, “Change is inevitable—except from a vending machine.” Resistance to change can happen because it is an emotional and behavioral response by those who are affected by either actual or imagined threats to a known routine in the company. After all, humans are creatures of habit.

According to an article Resistance to Change in an Organization's Structure & Culture and findings described by Gabrielle Brown (2017), the employees can either accept or resist change due to:

1. Being afraid to fail in the fast pace growth environment

2. Being fearful about the lost status in their positions

3. Being potentially worked more hours to go through the change

4. Feeling threatened about the group norms being changed

5. Feeling uncomfortable due to the change in their normal routines.

A Way to Succeed While Implementing Organizational Change

As I already alluded, structural changes are never easy and create disruption to people’s patterns of work. Employees could expect changes in positions, teams’ dynamics, and change in processes, but don’t fret. As a business owner and leader, you can successfully implement change, and some groups of people will support you.

According to Principles of Management , here are some things to consider when implementing change:

1. Groups that are managed by the leadership who is periodically rotated are likely to support organizational change because they will be offered new perspective on the new ways to operate.

2. If the changes bring flexible arrangement to people’s work schedules, they might be more accepting to changes.

3. If people feel engaged in the change, they will support it.

Change can happen in the underperforming companies too. If there is a perceived threat to extinction, a startup often finds it easier to change. One of the reasons is that high performance can lead to overconfidence and lack of innovation. Groups that perform poorly might be more supportive of change compared to successful teams, because they are not as self-confident and might welcome changes that could improve their output.

You might have heard plenty of sayings in line with “nothing fails like success” or “change happens when you step out of your comfort zone”. The bottom line is, don’t get complacent, learn what you can about the effective change management process, and be prepared to operate a successful business long before it grows beyond your current expertise.

Schedule a free consultation to determine if XCaliber Coaching & Consulting can help you with building your talent development and change management strategies. We are opened to present keynotes and workshops to you and your management teams.


About the Author: Alex Aberle is the President and Founder of XCaliber Coaching & Consulting LLC, a leadership and career development coaching firm. As a Certified Professional and Executive Coach with over 20 years of global experience in leadership and career development, she is on a mission to build a better world of leadership. Alex helps currents and aspiring leaders to calibrate existing skills, expand knowledge, and innovate approaches to effective performance. She worked with the clients employed by Anthem, Inc., The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, YPO, Cisco, BT, Xerox, and others.

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