As an online seller you know how quickly trends can come and go. With the fast paced life cycle of many product, sellers need to manage through the changes in trends quickly too. At times, change also means modifying your strategies, and that can be hard for your staff to understand. When dealing with the everyday needs of listing and processing items for sale, your employees may not understand the big picture and that’s why there are some tactics and strategies you can follow to help manage your company through change. Change is inevitable as we all see how rapidly the world changes.
In order to understand why managing through change is important, you need to see why change can be difficult for people. People don’t like uncertainty (fear of the unknown), they feel like they are losing control, some think that they are not doing a good job (maybe believe change will put their job is at risk) and change can cause more work to name a few.
This is why using some strategies for change management will help you lead your team through it. If change isn’t managed, then the risk of failure in implementation can occur. You don’t want this to happen as a lot of investment goes into working on new strategies.
Here are 8 things you should be doing for managing through change in eCommerce:
Share The Vision: The reason for the change should be clear. You’re changing because there is a need. Whether it’s efficiency, merging, staying current, meeting customer needs, or other reasons, change needs to happen in order for your business to succeed. Share with your staff the “why” things need to change, the expected end results, what will business look like once it’s done, and the bigger picture such as what will this mean to the business and it’s customers. This will help them begin to grasp the need for change. It can also be helpful to share some case studies of other companies who have made similar changes.
Lead By Example: Culture is key when it comes to your business operations. As the owner, you’re going to be bringing about change which can impact the culture. Whether it’s cultural resistance or cultural support, you’re moving from the past way to doing things to a new future way with better results. You want to establish any attitudes and behaviors that should reflect the company brand that you want to pass along to your managers and their staff. Your employees learn by example and can feel the tensions and stresses, therefore you and your management team should be cognizant of the cultural impact and set the tone.
Involve Those Impacted By The Change: Those who are most impacted by the change should be involved in the change process. They know the business processes best and can help identify roadblocks, work around possible problems to find a solution or reach out to companies who have implemented what you’re working towards for any words of advice. It can also be helpful to have a few involved from outside the business process as other departments or individuals can have good insights. Always include someone who can represent the customer and if possible, even use actual customers to help test things before you finally go to implement. Build the team based on the skills needed and capabilities of each member. If required have the appropriate members go through any needed training.
Build A Plan: As a guide to how things should proceed, you need to work with those involved to build out the plan. When building a timeline, take into account that daily tasks may still need to be conducted by the change team. You’ll need to account for finding time to work on the project. Some companies move their staff to work on change full time and then resources need to be allocated to fill gaps. It is hard to account for the bumps you will encounter along the way (such as time off for illness, employees leave, something not working as planned, etc). A good strategy is to add some buffer to your timelines. Sometimes the plan may have to be adjusted based on what you find out as you’re going through the process. Adjust the plan accordingly. As part of building a plan, a procedure should be established for what if it doesn’t work at implementation.
Establish Measures Of Success: Work with the team to establish what would be considered success and how can that be measured. You’re essentially painting a picture of the vision of the future and describing the wins. For example, is it a decrease in response times, if so, what percentage decrease would be considered a win? Is it the ability to process more orders, if so, how many more orders? Set up milestones that are part of the path to change and celebrate reaching those milestones. Deciding if there will be a reward system for those involved in the process is something management should decide upon too.
Communicate Through Phases: As a kick off to the project you should explain to all your staff why the change is needed and keep the teams and company informed as you progress through the process. Share the right information with the staff, whether it’s good news or bad news, to help them accept and adjust to the change. At times, your staff may consider part of the implementation to be a failure, especially if the news is bad. Communication is a 2 way street, therefore listen and address any concerns they have. Try not to wait too long to communicate as you want to help reduce stress and avoid rumours which makes it harder for people to accept the change. That is why communicating at the right time with the right level of explanation can help them see why adjustments had to be made. Celebrate the wins publicly and consider rewarding those who helped reach those goals.
Implement The Change: Change is often better received when it’s implemented in phases. As part of the path through implementation, any training that staff needs should be conducted. Ensure any processes and procedures are written and available as resources. Assign the roles and responsibilities as well as back ups. Have a backup plan ready to be implemented if the roll out hits some hiccups. If customers are impacted, notify them ahead of time of the change so they can plan their operations accordingly.
Measure Results: Did you get the end result you first anticipated? Are customers happy with the changes? Has there been efficiencies gained? These are just a few measures to be evaluated based on the change you’re implementing. Looking into the milestones that were set up and the measures of success will help establish the path to change as well as whether the final end result was successful. After the change has been implemented and running for a while, it’s a good idea to take another look at the measures of success to see how it is going. In addition, take feedback on the process and document the lessons learned. This will help in future implementations of change.
As you work to grow your business, changes will need to happen. Following these steps in managing through change in eCommerce will set your team up for successful implementation as well as help your employees embrace change. These steps are techniques used by many companies (large and small) who have managed themselves successfully through change. Change involves a lot of investment or resources and you want to see the change be successful for your future business operations and growth.