February 15, 2017
Managing change for c-store growth is part of management for successful companies. Fortunately, C-Stores employees are quite used to change. Prices, legislation, and products change often and sometimes every day. Anyone who has worked in a C-Store company, for any amount of time, is never shocked with change. However there are some changes that are bigger than most.
These are the changes to the core things you have done for years to run your business that may no longer working. That is when discomfort can be expected in a C-Store Operation, or anywhere. Our company builds software for C-Stores that and often requires these type of changes. We are often asked, “How can we make a change if we do not want our employees to feel any discomfort?” The realistic answer is that it can’t be done. While you may not be able to eliminate it, there are things you can do to get your employees past it.
EXPLAIN WHY THE CHANGE IS HAPPENING
Though it is natural for them to do so, don’t let employees internalize the situation. Immediately explain what used to work simply no longer does. Explain the problems your company has in your current situation that made a change necessary. It is easier to accept the decision when one has an understanding of why the change is happening. Also tell them what the consequences would be without the change.
TELL THEM HOW THE CHANGE WILL IMPACT THEM
The next normal reaction most people have will be wondering how the change will impact them. Rarely do they first look for the change benefit. Let’s look at a simple example of putting in a new soda machine that has multiple flavors that can be added to each soda. You are putting it there to compete with the store across the street however, it will require more cleaning.
Many times, first thoughts are negative. To address their concern, it may help to explain the benefits. For example, you may ask” How much harder is this modern machine going to be to clean?” Additionally, “We can compete better”. Clearly, you must explain the required effort. Hopefully, the benefit will take the sting away from the uncertainty. Even more, it may be that the change makes their job easier. Of course, taking time to explain shows respect and spawns understanding. Finally, acknowledge that they will be taking an important role and contributing to the solution.
ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR DISCOMFORT
Empathize with their feelings at the time. You probably had the same feelings when you decided to make the change. Explain how you worked it. Also, take time to examine the solutions in depth. If possible, show them the impact is not too bad. When you walk them through it, many will draw the same conclusion. Naturally, your similar feelings helps them to hear your reasoning.
PAINT THE ROSY PICTURE THE CHANGE WILL PROVIDE
Now they are prepared to hear the benefits to you and them that the change will provide. They will probably even agree it is a great one. Talk about the pains that will be eliminated and what will be better. Certainly let them know that you earnestly feel that you made the right decision for their benefit as well as your own.
Managing change for c-store growth is part of the game. If the change is too much trouble, then ask about the cost of not growing. Perhaps the fear of failure can offset the pain of new stuff.