Mike Barbeau

Change Management Doesn’t Have to be Painful | Five Principles to Employ

Mike Barbeau / July 31, 2019 / 0 Comments

The Times, They Are A-Changin’

The evolution is coming. When MarTech began, they promised results – tangible outcomes marketers could depend on. But the results haven’t come as advertised. Software platforms require more specialized expertise, not less. And the platforms marketing departments now invest in can only truly be optimized when the strategies and processes that drive them are aligned and integrated. For sophisticated marketing leaders to realize real performance gains, they now need to address multiple complex dependencies in a truly holistic manner. That requires change. And that change requires change management. 

Why Me?! Who Should Manage Change?

Some organizations have whole change management departments. Some hire experts (like us). Most depend on their existing resources. If you’re in a position where you are this existing resource, this blog’s for you.

Think of your change management tasks as a personal challenge, knowing that through a little creativity and a lot of teamwork the rewards will be great.

Whether you’ve been charged to generate more leads, faster, for less than it cost last year, or asked to provide a business case and budget to support a new technology, it can feel like being asked to boil the ocean. And lacking a Jupiter-sized stove top, those darts and that Tequila bottle start looking like a pretty good option. As a growth company ourselves, here are a few ways we fight through the noise, and have a good time doing it.

Take a “We Over Me” Approach

It’s doubtful that anyone in a modern organization would be able to keep a straight face (or their job) if they answered, “No” to whether they wanted more leads or more revenue. And yet organizations are filled with professional lamentations like “The IT team is always getting in the way,” or “Sales can’t convert the leads,” or “Marketing is a bunch of monkeys on typewriters”.

Marketing Monkeys

Often, immediately after everyone sat in the same room, played nice, and agreed to some sort of plan, those same people go back to business as usual.

Tweetable Quote: Business as usual is the enemy of Catalyst thinking.

To be an agent of change, the status quo must die a fiery death. This kind of professional “courtesy” lacks the kind of intimacy necessary to create real partnerships. The “we-ness” of smaller, younger, leaner organizations is why you often see such closeness in startups and yet an emotional vacuum in some larger corporations. When we’ve seen bigger corporations bring in, or create, that energy in their organizations, the results are massive. By cutting the red tape and dropping barriers, people become excited to achieve the organization’s vision … together. However, moving a large organization to a more agile approach will require incremental change management.

Take a look at these tips for how to become more connected to your counterparts and create a “We” scenario.

Stand in Their Shoes

Too often we talk about customers and clients in terms of revenue instead of the people that they represent. Customers, and future customers, want things like respect, autonomy, opportunities and an easy experience just like the rest of us. To strip away personas, lead scores, funnel stage expectations with acronyms we spent days arguing with sales about (ahem, MQL, I’m talkin’ to you) and just treat each other as people can drive a far more productive experience for everyone.

The best thing about standing in your customers’ shoes is the ammunition it gives you to evoke real change in your organization. We recently went through a messaging exercise internally. A lot of us had perceptions about what our buyers thought. But we did something that you might think curious for a consultancy, we contracted with a third party consultant to collect, aggregate and disseminate interviews with our current and past customers, as well as our closed lost and prospects.

The results were game-changing.

By hearing these well-constructed insights from our trusted third party, we learned a lot about our customers. And we used those insights to mold and frame every decision afterward. We reference them constantly. These sorts of insights can have an immediate and truly astounding impact.

Be Better Than Yesterday

Look, even Santa’s operation at the North Pole probably has a few holes in it.

Even the best organizations should push themselves, and each other, to be a bit better every day. And with an increasing number of systems, data and channels seemingly every week, it’s important to mesh strategic chops with technical acumen to build the right process to tackle the right problems.

We’ve seen organizations use everything to OKRs to KPIs to ABC BBD West Coast Family to get better. Although the system’s important, their commitment to being better every day is what really matters. They didn’t look for the professional version of PEDs to cheat their way to the result. Instead, they made a daily commitment to be the best by getting a bit better each day. The connotation of “catalysts” is that it’s fast. The reality is that it’s a series of small steps, all heading in one direction.

Create a culture of incremental improvement by practicing it. Specifically, set the expectation that your project will use a methodology of hypothesis-do-test-optimize.

Believe in Transparency

There just isn’t time to waste deciphering what is truth and what isn’t. And it’s not enough to let the data be the source of truth, because businesses are, last I checked, still run by people, not robots. Until then, there will be a human element to incorporate into every decision, idea and outcome.

We see companies adopting more and more of a no BS attitude as it relates to their own challenges and issues. In fact, we ask a ton of questions to make sure they’re ready for it because it’s the only way we work. This kind of radical transparency, both at the corporate level and the personal level, has the capacity to cut out the noise and identify the real issues at hand. And as GI Joe taught me, knowing is half the battle.

The Trust Quotient

Although it’d be nice if everyone just immediately began being more honest, transparency is a function of trust. And what makes people trust one another? Well, a lot of things, but namely: reliability, credibility, predictability, communication, competency and an interpersonal relationship. We already gave you some tips on creating interpersonal relationships with folks, but beyond that, know that again, you’ll need to be the change you want to see in the world. Resolve to communicate clearly and often. Do what you say you will.

You will find that change management does sometimes require change in yourself as well. But again, believe me that it’ll be rewarded as well.

Make it Fun

The idea of having fun at work matters now more than ever because there aren’t many companies left where getting ahead doesn’t include a whole lot of working your ass off. We spend an inordinate amount of time click-clacking, tip-tapping and yip-yapping our way through the day. The decisions we make aren’t always be easy, personal plans sometimes get canceled, and the day doesn’t always go the way we want. But we measure each other, and our clients measure us, on what we are like to work with.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, most people in our space are smart and make the best decisions they can. And whether it’s a lack of clarity, energy, skills or empathy, they have challenges in their way. To us, the key to enabling catalyst marketing is to cut through the bullshit and make things happen. Hopefully this has inspired you to get out there and manage some change!

Plus, if we can have a little fun along the way, all the better.



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