Change; adjust; shift; modify; alter; vary

It doesn't matter what word you use, if you want your situation to be different (better, easier, less stressful) than it is today, you need to implement change.

We call ourselves Switch for that reason.

We assist in the implementation of change for small business owners.

So their businesses can be better, easier, less stressful.

I was discussing ongoing frustrations with a business owner very recently. His frustrations centred around getting his more junior employees to follow instructions. Instructions that had been explained over and over. He was at wit's end.

Obviously, he needed to change the behavior patterns of these employees.

In the end, he agreed that before any change in their behavior was likely, first he had to change.

Again, this is obvious: whatever he had been doing in his attempts to have instructions followed was not working. If he does not change his method of instruction or his approach, the chances of positive change in his workplace are minimal.

My wife has the same problem at her place of work. She had written out a series of instructions for jobs to be done in what she considered to be plain, straightforward terms. There are continual stuff-ups. She is at wit's end.

In the end, she agreed that she would need to change the way she presented her instructions. In fact, in this case, she is going to try having the junior employees read out the instructions and interpret them as they see what is required. This is the point at which their interpretations will be fed back to her. Whether this is effective is yet to be determined.

In both cases, the change is starting at the point of instruction, rather than with those accountable for performance. Those accountable will need to see a reason why they need to change. In both cases, I am going to suggest that appeals should be made to both the emotional and the logical for employees. (Brothers Dan and Chip Heath in their book "Switch" referred to these as "the Rider" and "the Elephant". Recommended reading.)

Change management is a huge topic. There is a Change Management Institute, university courses and almost unlimited website resources, much of which requires a far greater time commitment for the small business owner than can be justified.

In the meantime, they might like to consider some principles as suggested by the Business Balls  website. (

American John P Kotter (b 1947) is a Harvard Business School professor and leading thinker and author on organizational change management. Kotter's highly regarded books 'Leading Change' (1995) and the follow-up 'The Heart Of Change' (2002) describe a helpful model for understanding and managing change. Each stage acknowledges a key principle identified by Kotter relating to people's response and approach to change, in which people see, feel and then change.

Kotter's eight step change model can be summarised as:

Increase urgency - inspire people to move, make objectives real and relevant.

Build the guiding team - get the right people in place with the right emotional commitment, and the right mix of skills and levels.

Get the vision right - get the team to establish a simple vision and strategy, focus on emotional and creative aspects necessary to drive service and efficiency.

Communicate for buy-in - Involve as many people as possible, communicate the essentials, simply, and to appeal and respond to people's needs. De-clutter communications - make technology work for you rather than against.

Empower action - Remove obstacles, enable constructive feedback and lots of support from leaders - reward and recognise progress and achievements.

Create short-term wins - Set aims that are easy to achieve - in bite-size chunks. Manageable numbers of initiatives. Finish current stages before starting new ones.

Don't let up - Foster and encourage determination and persistence - ongoing change - encourage ongoing progress reporting - highlight achieved and future milestones.

Make change stick - Reinforce the value of successful change via recruitment, promotion, new change leaders. Weave change into culture.

Kotter's eight step model is explained more fully on his website

The work of brothers Dan Heath and Chip Heath in their book “Switch” can be summarised as follows:

Direct the Rider

Follow the Bright Spots. Investigate what's working and clone it.

Script the Critical Moves. Don't think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviours.

Point to the Destination. Change is easier when you know where you're going and why it's worth it.
Motivate the Elephant

Find the Feeling. Knowing something isn't enough to cause change. Make people feel something.

Shrink the Change. Break down the change until it no longer spooks the Elephant.

Grow your People. Cultivate a sense of identity and instil the growth mindset.
Shape the Path

Tweak the Environment. When the situation changes, the behaviour changes. So change the situation.

Build Habits. When behaviour is habitual, it's "free" – it doesn't tax the Rider. Look for ways to encourage habits.

Rally the Herd. Behaviour is contagious. Help it spread.

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John Matthew

What John Matthew believes about small business

That the owner has risked many things that others take for granted;

That there is no guaranteed income or reward for the considerable effort that is required;

That often, the family home is on the line to support the business and its constituents;

That there is a dignity and self-respect that is earned;

That entire communities would be better places if there was an increased appreciation and respect for small business.

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