Types of Change Brexit Will Cause Your Business - Deal or No Deal

brexit managing change Mar 17, 2019

The last few days of parliament activity have been fascinating to watch on live TV in the House of Commons. To see what actually takes place in the process of finding a way through the quagmire that has become Brexit I have found really interesting.

There have been many passionate speeches and one that I felt truly showed a sense of leadership came from Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley.

In her emotional speech, she said she was 'enraged' with Theresa May's 'lack of bravery'. She made it quite clear that she wouldn't sit back and take the misrepresentation from the PM any longer when faced with the potential of a no-deal.

"I will not sit and listen to her crow about employment going up, when where I live employment is falling and hunger is rising."

Regardless of your political views, I think you will relate to someone acting as a leader when they:

  • Challenge the process.
  • Develop a sense of urgency.
  • Model the way.
  • Encourage others to speak up.
  • Are honest about wanting to do the right thing.



We are all waiting for the outcome of Brexit. Most of the attention for preparation has been focused on businesses managing their contingencies for a no-deal or the legal separations from the EU and the impact across areas of their business that will have an immediate effect.  

According to the Harvard Business Review:

"While the main effects from Brexit appear to have come via uncertainty so far, businesses also expect Brexit to lower their sales over the longer term, which is likely to carry important implications for investment, employment, and productivity too."

The conclusion, therefore, is that change is coming. 

Types of Change Brexit Will Cause

The impact of Brexit could be profound. Depending upon who you listen to or which report you read, its effects are going to be positive or negative and will impact areas such as:

  • Growth opportunities, especially new markets because of trade deals with other nations.
  • Economic downturns and challenging trading conditions especially as a global recession is forecast.
  • Shifts in strategic objectives for your business.
  • Technological developments that have arisen.
  • Competitive pressures, including new entrants, mergers and acquisitions from new competitors entering UK markets.
  • Customer or supplier pressure, particularly shifting markets and the impact of trade barriers.
  • Learning new organisation behaviours and skills in order to compete effectively and comply with changing legislation.
  • Government legislation/initiatives that support or restrict businesses post Brexit.

This means that owners and managers need to introduce and manage change to achieve their organisational objectives and throughout they must retain the commitment of their people.

Following an effective change model significantly helps to ensure the success of the change initiative, that's why we have created a definitive guide and leadership toolkit for preparing your organisation and your teams for Brexit so you can minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities. The toolkit is based upon an internationally respected change model and quickly builds leaders knowledge of how to manage change effectively.

How Can I Prepare My SME for Brexit?

There were 5.7 million SMEs in the UK in 2018, which was over 99% of all businesses. The chances are then that if you are reading this post you either lead, manage or work in one of these SMEs. The usual definition of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is any business with fewer than 250 employees.

If your organisation employs several hundred people then it's likely that you have your own team dedicated to Brexit transformation and are geared up with an organisational development head and change agents ready for the inevitable transformations that will ensue, deal or no deal.

But what of the rest of us that makeup over 99% of all UK businesses?

How can we prepare as SMEs?

What if you employ between 50 and a couple of hundred employees? What can you do to get ready?

Most of the advice you will come across especially from the government, relates to managing finances, imports and exports, and the rights of EU citizens. However, there is very little if any information about preparing employees and teams.

In fact when searched on Google using the term “how will Brexit affect teams”, the top results all related to Premier League football teams and F1 teams. There were no articles about preparing your employees. No guidance for SMEs that want to prepare their teams ready for the changes that Brexit will bring.

The high levels of failure in change management initiatives, in general, indicates that the skill of leaders in managing change leads a lot to be desired.

One of the key skills that Brexit will demand of business managers and leaders is in the area of change management. So much so that the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development states that understanding how to effectively enable change has been elevated to a core knowledge area for all people professionals (read leaders and managers.)

Irrespective of what changes Brexit brings your organisation people will be at the centre of all of those changes.  Therefore it's critical that leaders and managers learn the critical skills to drive effective change.

Yet most organisations are unprepared for change.

  • 87% of employees believe there is not enough focus on how to effectively change (McKinsey 2015)
  • 90% of CEOs believe their leadership and organisations do not have the agility to change (Bersin by Deloitte 2016)

If your organisation can not change what will happen?

Our leadership guide to help you manage change post-Brexit will help you know how to manage change effectively and how to engage and keep employees onside.

In the meantime, there are four things that you can do.

  1. Lead Employees to a Place of Positivity - where people can see there is a better place ahead where all the disruption of Brexit has passed and that there will be opportunities that will come from the changes caused by a departure from the EU. This sense of a better place is a key part of the leadership skill of inspiring a shared vision amongst your employees. To begin with, this leadership can just be the sharing of a vision before any action is taken and before your strategic plans are in place.
  2. Address Worries and Anxieties - where you speak directly to employees using a common language that connects to them both emotionally and rationally to address their top of mind anxieties and burning questions of how Brexit may impact their jobs.
  3. Connecting People - the very nature of Brexit is divisive as roughly 50% of voters wanted to remain and the others leave, so your organisation will have split views. Your role as a leader is to bring these divisions together and to reconnect people, to reduce any disconnection caused and to generate a feeling of one team.
  4. Refocusing Efforts - this means re-energising employees so that they can move away from the distractions and uncertainties of Brexit and get back on track focusing on what needs to be done for all stakeholders of the business or organisation.

At the very least you can apply these four principles but for more insight and tools for managing change more robustly, purchase our complete leadership guide and toolkit. Just click here to get more details NOW!

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