All companies will need to change.

There’s not a company in the country – probably in the world – which hasn’t felt the impact of Covid-19 in some way or another.

Most have suffered. It’s not been a good time to be in retail or travel.

But many have prospered: technology companies specialising in networking and remote communication have thrived.

The one thing that unites them all is that they will need to change.

Some will expand and some will change tack altogether; even companies who want to stay as close as possible to their previous existence will need to think about remote and flexible working, social distancing, new customer behaviour patterns and a downturn in the market.

So change is as inevitable at this point as death and taxes.

Different companies have different experiences

I work with companies ranging from small SMEs to vast global enterprises. In one way or another probably two thirds of the work I do with all of them focusses on how they can drive transformation through technology.

And it’s interesting to see how they differ. SMEs are generally speaking, quite nimble. It’s often not hard for them to make decisions, and they tend to get going quickly.

But their teams generally feel a very strong sense of ownership. Change resistance can be surprisingly embedded in companies where people feel personally invested in how it used to be. So my experience of working with SMEs is that they need to focus less on process and more on engagement. If they get everyone on board, they can go quickly. If they don’t, they can go as quickly as they like but they’ll get stuck.

For enterprise it’s different. Of course engagement is important but it’s different. What the people who drive change at that sort of scale tend to prioritise is process and communication. Of course this is a spectrum not a binary situation. You need good process in an SME and good people engagement in an enterprise. But there are distinct differences in approach and focus depending on the scale.

You can see those differences in timelines and in other ways as well. SMEs will generally have much shorter horizons for change to be delivered and for the impact to be felt in the business. Sheer logistics means things take longer within an enterprise.

But interestingly experienced transformation and change people work across both SME and enterprise, and often move from one to the next quite regularly.

Willingness to change and drive change is the key

And I think that’s because the defining characteristic of change specialists is adaptability. Every situation is different. And of course, by default, they leave every company and role with it looking vastly different to the way it did when they arrived – that’s their job!

So as the world continues to respond and change to the pandemic, there will be high demand for skilled change people. That ability to clarify need, understand environment and drive transformation is going to be absolutely crucial in the coming months and years.

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