Managing Through Change

By, Robert Half Management Services

In the business world, a company's survival depends on its ability to keep evolving. The most successful firms understand they must continually adapt to changing circumstances and find new ways to satisfy their customers. But change is rarely something that's easy for organizations or individuals. Your ability to manage a variety of business transformations, from mergers and acquisitions to downsizings and new leadership, is critical to long-term prosperity. This is especially true for accounting departments forced to work with and meet new government regulations. For example, how quickly and effectively companies manage their internal processes and people to respond to these new accounting guidelines and standards will determine their success.

Following are a few tips for guiding your staff through a transition period:

Communicate Change

Effective communication can make or break a transition - whether it's company-wide or just within your team. Change of any sort can be somewhat confusing and intimidating for many people, and they need your help to understand and accept the situation. Even if you don't have all the information, don't keep your employees in the dark. What they might imagine will almost always be worse than reality. Tell them what you know and, as often as possible, try to find the answers to their questions.

Focus on the Positive

Change can often engender a feeling of resistance. To counter this, you need to let your staff know what they can do to support the transition period and how they can feel more in control of the situation. In other words, you need to encourage their positive response to change. Explain that each one of them plays an integral role in this critical new phase for the company and that success requires a commitment to teamwork.

While you need to acknowledge potential hurdles they may encounter, don't forget to point out new opportunities that may also arise. Be sure everyone understands his or her individual responsibilities and how job duties may or may not be impacted. If team members will need additional training to make the required transition, arrange for appropriate classes or on-line resources. Remind them that this may be a chance to learn a new skill and enhance their professional development.

Reallocate Resources

Some changes, such as a downsizing or hiring freeze, can be particularly stressful for employees since they likely will need to do more with less. Add to this the stress of meeting new corporate governance standards, and your staff can become easily drained. While you may need to stretch available resources, be sure you're not jeopardizing productivity and employee morale.

Take a look at the goals of your team, and determine the abilities and resources necessary to succeed. Could you accomplish more during these times by strategically partnering with other departments? Is it possible to reassign any of your team members to more pressing projects during "crunch" times? Can you bring in project professionals to help out during peak workloads or handle special or time-sensitive initiatives? Such short-term assistance can not only take some of the pressure off of your core staff, but it can also give you access to skills that may not be available internally.

Change can be a challenge for even the most experienced managers. By communicating openly, encouraging teamwork and reallocating resources appropriately, you can turn any kind of transition into a successful experience for your firm.

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