How to Manage Change

This time of year, the change in weather comes swiftly. And, while refreshing and beautiful, you could’ve also been caught off guard – with your boots and sweaters still packed well away. If you’re in business, change is guaranteed. Whether that’s a smaller change like relocating from Midtown Atlanta to the northern Sandy Springs neighborhood like I recently did or bigger changes like a change in company leadership, a company merger, subsequent rebranding and/or adopting a new customer base.

Change can be scary for anyone. But, it doesn’t have to be if you can properly manage it. Here are a few tips to help guide your transitioning company.

Tip #1: Tell

Nobody responds well to change if they don’t understand why it is happening and how it will impact them. That rings true for your employees, executives and customers alike. The best way to begin managing your company’s change is to define the why. Get ahead of the change and determine your messages to key audiences. Transparency and honesty go a long way when it comes to upholding the trust of your staff and customers.

Tip #2: Manage

Two of the most important pieces you can manage for your brand through a change are your image and reputation. If your company is in the middle of a merger or acquisition, it’s essential that you proactively manage the convergence of the two entities. Begin with each of your brand’s values and seek to find the commonalities. A successful joining of two companies should never sacrifice the integrity of either brand nor their valuable audiences and reputation. The same rings true for a rebrand. You’ll need to effectively communicate the evolution of your brand based on what is already familiar to your audiences.

Tip #3: Engage

Your employees and customers are two essential audiences. Look for opportunities to include them in your transition to the new. The goal is to allow for them to embrace the change on their own terms. Lead with the culture you’ve created within your internal team and foster an open environment of understanding and support. Your employees will help to then expand that message to your external audience of customers.

Tip #4: Listen

Communications isn’t just about talking to people. But, also about actively listening to their responses. And, if you’re not yet convinced, chew on this…in today’s socially-digital world, YOU are no longer your brands only voice. Through a change, you want to be sure to closely monitor and respond to your customers especially on your social media networks. The messages you want to send can quickly get off track with just one erroneous posting that picks up traction.

Tip #5: Measure

Like any successful communications campaign, you want to set realistic objectives. When managing a change, look at the near term and outline the awareness, behavior, sentiment or action you are hoping to achieve among your various audiences. Depending on the longevity of the change campaign, you may want to set markers for evaluating the progress you are making along the way.

Tip #6: Adjust

Lastly, don’t be afraid to adjust your sails in order to reach your destination. Like a boat, your brand will need to learn to manage the waves of change. Setting a successful transition plan is not a static initiative. Rather, your plan should allow for moments of assessments and adjustments as necessary to effectively manage the change. You may need to revise your messaging and/or deliver it multiple ways and times before your audiences fully absorb it.

Earlier this year, I wrote about building your brand. And, though the act of brand building is something a company thinks about at the beginning, it is often something that fades from the forefront as the company continues to grow. But, the truth is, you never stop building your brand. Through a change, it’s essential to think about your brand equity. By following these tips, you can seek to build awareness while also fostering an environment of familiarity and loyalty among your audiences.