As a marketing firm, we face change constantly… new clients, new projects, new markets, new leadership at our clients…are all common elements of change. Managing change is as important as the change itself and more importantly, for us…helping OTHERS through the changes.
Being accustomed to change makes our approach easier and less “scary” than a typical company…however, change usually involves multiple partners, people and the variable of timing.
Our biggest challenge in managing change? Helping those that face change less often accommodate and cope with the scope, speed and timing of the change. I thought I would share a few nuggets that help guide us…and may cause you to change your approach, too!
There is LOTS of research on change… how-to steps, best practices and war-stories. The common thread to each seems to be 3-key areas to pay particular attention:
- Communicate: the important part is the “WHY.” Most communications during change focus – almost exclusively – on the “WHAT.” While critically important to the mechanics of the change, the Why is the heart of the change and the mental piece that provides comfort, knowledge and confidence the team/people undergoing the change.
- Collaborate: bringing the team/people INTO the change from the beginning helps them resolve the change in their mind and grasp the HOW and adds to their understanding of the WHY. As often/best you can, bring people into the planning AND execution of change.
- Commit: commit your heart, mind and personal actions in support of the change. Your actions, words (and in-actions) are amplified in periods of change. Commit your involvement early, often and visibly.
Now… there is an ART to managing and implementing change, too. The science is referencing above. The art is more about the psychology of change and identifying key people, actions, and timelines that will assist positive change or– if not managed — will derail the change.
Identify key stakeholders early and engage their commitment. The stakeholders will vary by title, placement and duration with the company…but EACH holds great sway over the “heart and mind” of their department/area or team. Engage early and enlist their support and visible participation in the change. Remember, not all change can be “legislated” much of it must led forward by your team.
Lastly, you must be open to comments and learning through the process. The “best laid plans” do not always unfold…but the best outcomes have learning and modifications built into the process and demonstrated flexibility incorporated into the change and the implementation and management of the change.
So there you have it… our learning by fire and nuggets to help you move forward.