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Why Change Management Should be an Ongoing Journey

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Mark Roberts ShoreTel Chief Marketing Officer

Change management isn’t about the change, it’s about bringing people along during times of change. Since digital marketing allows us to always react in real time to a number of different changes – market conditions, corporate positioning, customer need, competition, etc. – we should always be in a state of change to be effective. Change management is no longer a one-time issue. It’s about an ongoing journey and being agile enough to leverage opportunities and address challenges as they arise.

This “always-on” marketing mentality is still new to most teams. Too often we have focused on the end objective, i.e. the result of the change, and not enough time developing the idea, vetting its value against customer or corporate need, working through the issues, selling the idea internally and then having a long-term focus on its implementation.  Once a marketing initiative is launched, we often move on to the next initiative thinking our job is done. Rarely do we measure the full impact or incorporate findings to the core ongoing programs as we progress.

In today's fast moving business world it is easy to equate success with rushing a marketing idea into implementation. Less understood is why it is critical that every member on your team not only understand the changes in marketing campaigns and initiatives, but also understand the role they play in its success. Often the team isn’t following or even in agreement with the plan, which can jeopardize its execution and impact.

Change can take time to process and people change at different speeds. Most people want to do the best work they can and want to be involved in the change, but often don’t have the full picture or appreciate their role. Sometimes what we are asking of them is new to their wheelhouse, which can bring stress and impact success.  

It’s odd, really when you think about it. As marketers we intuitively understand what our customers need to make a purchase and we factor into our programs the business pain points and needs they have as a certain type of persona (IT, line of business, C-Suite, end-user) at each stage of their buying process. Driving change in our own groups appears to be another matter.

I’d propose we'd have less stress and more productive, creative teams if we baked in time to plan for change management as we create, execute and measure our ever-changing marketing programs and processes. Too often we only think the A players and the winning team, when in fact your team is made up of lots of “personas” who all bring something unique to the table. We forget that people are motivated differently, think differently, work differently and get involved in projects for different reasons. We forget the importance of driving change in our own groups. We forget there are many different approaches to a problem and get myopic about the end goal.

Imagine if we executed the same discipline for ourselves as for our customers and ensured our teams were in alignment -- from awareness to creation to consideration to execution of our marketing programs. Everyone would be involved and delivering their unique value to the programs. Everyone would own ensuring success. And everyone would constantly and naturally be increasing their own skill sets as they learned what works best. In short, everyone would be on the same page. Surely what works for our customers should also be applied to our teams?