Earlier this month, we drew a number of connections between change management and marketing, citing well-known, time-honored marketing lessons as inspiration for your change efforts.
In this follow-up, we continue our discussion by driving down toward more granular marketing practices. Again, what we’re seeing is that while change management and marketing typically live in separate organizational silos, there is much to be learned from marketers, in terms of communication, technology and audience nurturing.
Read on to see if you agree.
4. Consult Your Internal Marketing Experts
At the core of marketing in the digital age is the ability to distribute valuable, relevant and consistent material within the most appropriate communication channels for each targeted audience. In organizations with mature marketing functions, the best avenue is to reach in and talk to the trusted experts within your company. This can be a shift for professionals who turn immediately to external resources, or take the “we’ll do it ourselves” approach.
Take this opportunity to utilize your marketing function’s knowledge and content marketing expertise to help define the channels that will be appropriate for specific stakeholder groups, as well as the materials and methods for promoting a specific change initiative rather than immediately seeking external third-party assistance. They can help you to best position, target and distribute information on the business purpose for making a change, its technical content, how the change will impact employees, and determining the expected results.
5. Use Social Media Networks
While change is often in the best long-term interest of a company, it can wreak havoc on an organization’s workforce in the short term. Periods of change on a grand scale – mergers and acquisitions, technology implementations, significant layoffs – can erode employee engagement, loyalty, and trust. In most cases, the activities companies use to mitigate any negative impacts of change may need to be revisited as generations Y and Z move into employee ranks.
But, because we spend nearly three hours per day on social platforms, and because more than half of employers are already using internal social media, companies also have an opportunity to leverage social media as a change management tool.
If your organization is socially active, use the platforms to which your employees are accustomed. Go where they already are and engage them about the change at hand. Common sense tells us that people going through change need in-person interactions with people they trust and a safe space to process what’s happening.
Next, engage your leaders by checking in with them regarding their comfort levels using social media within the business. It is especially important not to assume that any one stakeholder group is active on social media given the generation gaps in today’s workforce.
Be sure to build social media into your change communication plans and line up a group of socially-minded executives who can pave the way, even if at first it doesn’t include your CEO. Then build a team of social employee influencers who can direct others to executive content and real-time engagement opportunities.
Social media alone won’t lead to greater employee engagement during change. Face-to-face communication, manager support, and real-time coaching are all critical to preserving trust and boosting morale and performance in times of change. But social media is fast becoming an indispensable supplement.
6. Nurture Your Change Customers
Just as no marketer is going to make a sale after one blanket pitch, your change customers (the organization’s workforce) aren’t likely to adopt new organizational change at once, with some requiring more guidance, specific information, and opportunities for participation throughout the process.
In marketing this is called “nurturing” and it has become a standard practice for consumer and B2B marketers alike. Change managers can benefit from using this approach by taking time to ensure employees and functional areas are on board with a proposed change by continuing to address their questions and concerns, while simultaneously demonstrating how the change can benefit them.
Through the process, the idea isn’t to hammer home any particular point, or go for a quick change of heart. Instead, the proposed change is substantiated within every communication, in hopes it leads to more positive feelings around pain points.
Some individuals and functions will take longer than others to adopt change, especially if this change directly affects their roles and responsibilities. In turn, not everyone will buy in. Better to know your naysayers through consistent nurturing and communication than by hoping and praying the change is accepted across the company.
There’s still two more lessons we can learn from our marketing colleagues and we’ll look at those next time. How many of you have worked with other internal functions in your organizations— marketing, corporate communications, or public relations? What insights have they given you about introducing change that is more targeted to specific stakeholder groups?
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