With changing cultural and societal shifts, and an increased focus on technology for communication, new generations of employees are getting integrated into the corporate world. The motivators that inspired previous generations to add value to a company or organization may no longer be relevant for new generations entering the workforce.
Traditionally, change management and marketing are distinct functions and rarely cross paths, even though both are squarely aimed at business performance and growth and both are dependent on the psycho-demographics of their audience.
However, how marketers use psycho-demographic insights differs from change professionals. Marketers are closely keyed into the unique needs and motivators of each generation. Because change management professionals rely on motivational factors to implement change effectively, they can learn significant lessons from their marketing colleagues, starting with the basic tenets of marketing best practices.
Below are some time-honored marketing mantras rephrased in change management terms, so that change management professionals can consider opportunities to adopt and customize.
1. Create and build the brand
“Your culture is your brand.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com
Sage words, to be sure, from a man known for effective, disruptive marketing. After all, in this era of transparency and real-time connection, if your company doesn’t reflect a strong and clear brand identity in every aspect of your business, why should anyone buy from you? A brand sets an expectation of value for what, how, and why a customer can count on receiving value from your company by choosing you over your competitors.
Buyers learn to trust your brand over time, and their trust can be easily broken when the “brand promise” isn’t consistently reflected in everything the company says and does around and inside of the “customer experience.” Similarly, employee trust is built by change sponsors setting expectations and consistently delivering on them by demonstrating and sharing commons beliefs, values, and ways of behaving the “company” way.
As you know, any leader can directly impact the “employee experience” and how employees of any generation relate to the organization by carefully considering how their words and actions may impact their employees’ experience and values of the organization.
This line of thinking isn’t limited to the marketing department. In fact, today’s marketing practices have grown to the point where they’ve become synonymous with overall business practices, and not only reflect the way you currently do business, but also how your company promises how it will do business as it evolves.
Brand creation, brand positioning and brand image are everyday terms for marketing teams all over the world. For them, the target audience is always existing and potential customers. Change management professionals have the opportunity to learn how to recognize the value of branding by working with their marketing colleagues to brand their own perceived value as well as branding key change initiatives within the organization
Since an employee who is in-sync with the brand image of his/her employer is more likely to create a brand-specific value proposition, change management professionals can actively contribute to the development of the employer’s internal brand by ensuring that a company’s overall brand is reflected in all change management activities.
2. Treat employees like marketers treat customers
“The customer is king” is an age-old adage in the marketing world, and marketers live by it while devising their strategies. The absolute and unwavering dedication shown to customers clearly indicates the organization-wide understanding that their support will result in better revenue.
Change management professionals can take a page out of their marketers’ book and understand that involving employees (their internal customers), as well as sponsors and leaders, can influence the “buy” into the change process, the change itself, and its impacts. If change management strategies are designed with the simple philosophy of “employee is king,” a culture of change acceptance is accelerated.
Time spent deeply and sincerely engaging employees as a set of bona fide “customers” with very specific needs will help employees gain additional insight into the nature of the change and its impact, shed any resistance connected to relegation, and help them step into the world and see themselves with a newfound wealth of knowledge, skill and competency.
3. Segment your stakeholders
Marketing professionals are well-versed in segmenting, targeting and positioning audiences before entering a new market, or launching new products in an existing market. They have a much broader definition of segmentation than that used by change managers.
Why not look at internal target audiences in the same way as a marketer—not only doing a stakeholder assessment in terms of job changes, or a communication strategy about what they need to know about the change, but rather a segmenting of the company’s workforce as its own internal marketplace to identify common and varying “pain points,” internal customer personas, and their experiences of the change at hand?
Why should change management professionals consider this approach? To ensure that their project’s strategic messaging is aligned with the company’s internal and external brand. That is actually what marketing professionals refer to as “on brand.”
So is your change project’s communication strategy “on brand” for moving the company’s culture forward toward the company’s desired future state? Are there components of your change training program’s design and delivery that could be better aligned with the company’s future internal brand?
Do your executive coaching conversations focus specifically enough on which phrases and actions change project sponsors should emphasize to reinforce the company’s brand and business strategy? Can you see where there are differences between an employee’s “stake in” and “pain point” about their real and perceived impacts from change?
But we’ve spoken enough. It’s your turn – what else can our marketing colleagues teach us? What marketing tactics and practices have you applied to your change management?