Business must tap into gov’ts change agenda—Prof Lartey

January 12, 2017
Source: thebftonline.com/Ghana
Business must tap into gov’ts change agenda—Prof Lartey

Private sector businesses must position themselves to tap into the change promised by the Akufo-Addo-led administration, Professor Samuel Lartey has said.

Prof. Lartey believes that the businesses that win are those who are able to connect with change. “Businesses must inspire every voice in their organisation to change with the change as they occur.”

“No matter what your size of business, change is irresistible and a positive attitude towards change are always better than blaming the past. Markets, economies and governments are now changing fast– you need the power to embrace and manage the change as they occur. People will only take on board the case for change when they can personalise it and relate it to their own job and team,” he said.

The new administration has promised tax-cuts to relieve businesses of what it called ”nuisance taxes” to spur the growth of the private sector and create jobs for the thousands of unemployed youth in the country.

“We will reduce taxes to recover the momentum of our economy. The doors of Ghana are open again. The shutters are up again. There could not be a better opportunity to “make in Ghana”, and to make it in Ghana. Ghana is open for business again!” President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said in his inaugural speech.

The government has promised to cut corporate tax-rate from 25% to 20%, and remove import duties on raw materials and machinery for production within the context of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) Protocol.

Other tax cuts on the table include: the Special Import Levy (1-2percent of cost, insurance and freight);  the 17.5% VAT on a number of things-- imported medicines, financial services, real estate sales and domestic air tickets. 

For Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, a reduction of the VAT for SMEs from the current 17.5% to a 3% flat rate has also been promised.

Organisations, Prof Lartey says, must “ensure that line managers translate the corporate case for change into reality for every individual in the company. Consider what change will mean for each individual in terms of: status (job title, budget responsibility); habits (changes to working time, new colleagues); beliefs (move to a customer focus); and behaviour (new working practices).”

“Individual employees must feel they can take ownership of the change programme as it evolves. Change can be stressful if imposed. Introduce mechanisms to facilitate this. Allow criticism and feedback but ensure the means exist to take corrective action. Ask what and who is preventing progress and who can really help in unblocking it. Think of breaking the code of silence that engenders organizational protectionism and maintains the status quo.

Sustained change requires very high levels of motivation. People need to feel valued, to be developed, to have their achievements recognised, and to be challenged. Recognise that different rewards will motivate different people to change,” Prof. Lartey advised.

He highlighted the success story of First Direct. An electronic banking institution in the middle of brick and mortar retail banking. First Direct is a telephone and internet-based retail bank in the United Kingdom, a division of HSBC Bank plc.

First Direct has headquarters in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and has 1.25 million customers. It maintains a reputation for superior customer service culture and was awarded Most Trusted Financial Provider by Moneywise, first place in the 2015 customer service survey, and winning five awards in the British Bank Awards 2016. 

“Change is a very long process made up of very small and often invisible modifications to behaviour and attitudes. Seek innovative ways to remind staff of the overall case for change and to reinforce its value to them. Accept that change will be a stop/start process. Plan for this and develop strategies to gear the organisation up for renewed effort if there are setbacks.

Monitor and evaluate the results of the change programme against the goals and milestones established in the original plan. Are these goals still appropriate or do they need to be revised in the light of experience?

Existing performance measures may transmit the wrong signals and act as a block on change. Design measures which are consistent with the vision and goals.

Be honest in your assessment of progress. If there is a real divergence between the plan goals and reality take corrective action quickly. Be open about failure and involve employees in setting new targets or devising new measures,” he said.

The change programme is unlikely to be the only corporate initiative underway. Ensure the strategy and goals behind the others are consistent and point in the same direction. Do employees receive consistent messages about the organisation's core values and beliefs from each of the programmes?

Stakeholders

Set up a team of stakeholders. The team will include the key people involved in designing and delivering the service as well as those receiving it. They will also be responsible for defining and disseminating the benefits of the change. Treat change like any project. Set goals and milestones and monitor progress to keep the project on schedule and on budget. Flag up potential problems as early as possible and plan for them with contingencies. Establish the project team ground-rules especially on information sharing, decision-making and reporting.

People will only take on board the case for change when they can personalise it and relate it to their own job and team. Ensure that your line managers translate the corporate case for change into reality for every individual in the company. Consider what change will mean for each individual in terms of: status (job title, budget responsibility); habits (changes to working time, new colleagues); beliefs (move to a customer focus); and behaviour (new working practices).

Individual employees must feel they can take ownership of the change programme as it evolves. Change can be stressful if imposed. Introduce mechanisms to facilitate this. Allow criticism and feedback but ensure the means exist to take corrective action. Ask what and who is preventing progress and who can really help in unblocking it. Think of breaking the code of silence that engenders organizational protectionism and maintains the status quo.

Sustained change requires very high levels of motivation. People need to feel valued, to be developed, to have their achievements recognised, and to be challenged. Recognise that different rewards will motivate different people to change.

Change usually brings about conflict of one kind or another, simply because people have different views and reactions. Try to get conflict to surface rather than fester; try to tackle it by dissecting and analyzing it with those who are experiencing it. Often enough conflict can be put to positive work through open discussion and clarification.

When conflict cannot be resolved through improved explanation and discussion, you will have to negotiate and persuade. This means avoiding entrenched positions, and working out how to shift others from theirs. It means getting to an agreed 'yes' without either side winning or losing face.

It is uncertainty rather than change that really worries employees. Provide as much information as possible and quash rumours as soon as they arise.

Any change programme is stressful. Fear of the unknown rather than change itself is the major contributory factor. Reduce its impact by being as open as possible about all the consequences of change. See that employees own the changes.

View the change programme as a learning process and integrate it into the corporate training programme. Build both technical and soft skills at all levels within the organisation. Set an example by updating the skills of top management.

Creating goals and plans that everyone subscribes to means that everyone can gain. Turn learning into something that people want to buy into - instead of it being perceived as a chore - where they can feel the 'buzz' of discovery and involvement in new developments.

Change is a very long process made up of very small and often invisible modifications to behaviour and attitudes. Seek innovative ways to remind staff of the overall case for change and to reinforce its value to them. Accept that change will be a stop/start process. Plan for this and develop strategies to gear the organisation up for renewed effort if there are setbacks.

Monitor and evaluate the results of the change programme against the goals and milestones established in the original plan. Are these goals still appropriate or do they need to be revised in the light of experience?

Existing performance measures may transmit the wrong signals and act as a block on change. Design measures which are consistent with the vision and goals.

Be honest in your assessment of progress. If there is a real divergence between the plan goals and reality take corrective action quickly. Be open about failure and involve employees in setting new targets or devising new measures.