As a business restructuring lawyer and business owner myself I am reminded daily of the difficulties our clients face with the current pandemic. Now however is the time when we must recover our confidence and realise this lock down is not forever and it is not all doom and gloom.
Nations and people can help fuel recovery and indeed have done so after wars and famine. As @LukeJohnsonRCP writing in The Sunday Times eloquently put it:
“Take the Germans and the Japanese after the Second World war – both countries achieved remarkable revivals despite being ruined and utterly demoralised following their defeat in 1945. People stage comebacks from many disasters, often wiser and more resilient than ever. It is important that society does not become too risk averse, and that nations do not worry too obsessively about their health to the detriment of living.”
As #restructuring lawyers, we often feel like doctors or psychiatrists attempting to solve a problem using the rule of law but one tool I find very useful is the S.A.R.A.H model of change. SARAH is an abbreviation for:
- Acceptance, and
The model can be used to facilitate a smooth process and positive result when implementing change in businesses by improving your colleagues understanding and minimising their concerns. The model embodies the phases we experience when coming to terms with change. The experience of the various phases described below will differ and depend on the particular facts of the matter and our personalities as some may have better coping mechanisms than others.
But let’s face it no one likes to change but as dinosaurs found out to their cost, it is usually necessary. For example the top football managers do not think “That’s it we have won the Premiership, so we do not have to make any transfers next season”. Equally Steve Jobs and Apple did not launch the first iPhone and then think “We have cracked it; we do not have to think about designing a new improved model”.
And yet change is a phenomenon that we do not often like, initially at least.
However, an understanding of the timeline below improves the ability of the individual(s) implementing the change to provide tailored and valuable support to stakeholders in a business during this period.
When first faced with change, we are often prone to being apprehensive, which can cause a reaction of shock or denial.
#SME owners should adopt a supportive approach, allowing his or her colleague to be heard. Your team needs to be able to decipher the basis for the change and its intended outcome and accordingly must be provided with as much relevant information as possible to assist their understanding.
Who cannot feel angry with the current situation? Anger is common once the stakeholder has established the basis for the change and its intended outcome, which can manifest as passive aggression or even rage.
It is crucial to remember that the stakeholder is displaying a heat of the moment reaction and is not currently thinking logically; the anger is directed at the change and not the individual personally. Anger should not be met with anger or insistence and the supportive approach followed in the previous phase should continue. To prevent this anger reaching an uncontrollable and impractical level, the individual should attempt to identify and resolve the stakeholder’s concerns as quickly as possible.
During this phase, your colleague may feel sceptical, despondent or a sense of wrongdoing, for example. As a result, many stakeholders will resist the change which may include one of the following:
- Attempting to divert attention away from the change.
- Continuing to find further issues and arguments to avoid the change.
- Being unresponsive to the proposed change.
A balance needs to be struck here between the supportive approach adopted so far and the individual holding their ground. The individual should attempt to focus the stakeholder’s mind on the key issues and draw up action plans to deal with each of these, setting out clear timeframes and success indicators. A step-by-step approach should be followed, concentrating on what can currently be achieved, no matter how small. More senior members of staff may have to assist the individual or take over to ensure this difficult phase is overcome.
This phase occurs once the stakeholder has come to terms with the change and is ready to accept it. After acceptance, the stakeholder can begin to see the benefits of the change.
During this phase, the individual should encourage the stakeholder to take small steps towards implementing the change that they feel comfortable with, creating a positive environment and providing constructive criticism if appropriate.
In this final phase, the stakeholder has now reached a point where they are optimistic about the change and willing to use their efforts to drive it forward.
The individual should set realistic and agreed targets and an action plan of how these can be achieved, providing any necessary support. The individual should be aware that change does not happen overnight, and stakeholders should be discouraged from falling back into old habits instead being encouraged to push forward.
We need to stop being blinded by the headlights and find a way out of the fog. Society and the economy need brave entrepreneurs to rebuild the economy, to create jobs and generate tax to pay for this Covid-19 bill which no doubt will follow.
For further information on the above, or any insolvency assistance, please contact us on 0207 467 3980 and speak to one of our insolvency law solicitors now. Alternatively, email us with your query at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be sure to call you back at a time convenient for you. All communications will, of course, be dealt with in the strictest of confidence.