Wyoming Business Tips for April 25

April 19, 2010

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Jill Kline, WSBDC associate state director

"I am new to managing a local retail business, but not new to this type of position. However, I see many changes I would like to make, but feel there will be resistance. Any advice on how to approach this?" Anonymous, Sheridan

I hear at least two areas to explore from this question. First, you are new to this particular job and second, you have identified areas for change. I will briefly touch on both, but to answer the question in short, do not rush, survey the situation and make a plan.

A new manager means change has already occurred for existing employees. You may feel resistance simply because employees do not know what is in store for them -- it is human nature.

They may fear the unknown and just need a little time to adjust to your leadership style. Since this is not your first management position, I am sure you are prepared to answer questions and to provide guidance and feedback to employees.

Before implementing additional change, take time to become familiar with the business' current culture. Build trust and know the team (as well as the business owner) and examine the business' history and how things were done before you took the position. I encourage you to engage the employees in conversation to find out what they feel is or is not working. This allows them to take ownership and might provide a foundation for changes being considered.

It is not clear what type of changes are being considered or reasons for your proposed changes. Is it to keep up with technology, efficiency or environmental reasons, change in the market, financial matters or competition that is driving your actions?

It will be important to understand the nature of changes and the impact they will have -- positive or negative. Clearly convey that information to employees. Good communication is key. The greater the buy-in from your team the greater chances are for positive change and success.

The good news is that you do not have to do this by yourself. A Wyoming Entrepreneur Small Business Development Center adviser can assist in developing a plan to ensure changes are implemented smoothly.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922.

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