Periods of change are necessary for any thriving organization, but change is a very real threat to the equity you’ve built in your brand. You’ve worked long and hard to build a brand people know and trust — when the time comes to institute a major transition, preserving it is paramount.
When it comes to this preservation, we know to hold fast to our logo, invest in keeping our social media accounts engaged and guard our promotional content and advertising. And yet with all this attention to holding onto our brand value, it’s still not uncommon for other areas — areas which pose an even greater risk — to go completely overlooked.
So how do you preserve your brand, keep it strong and keep it growing in the midst of necessary transition? The answer is a laser-like focus on your brand in the wild and on the people within your walls.
Monitoring Your Touch Points
Rigorously monitor every place where the organization touches people. This includes the obvious points where your employees or volunteers interact directly with clients: customer service, marketing (in person or online), service departments and admin. It also includes the not-so-obvious places, like product development.
Think for a moment about the people in your organization who are developing products. They’re probably closeted away in an office. Or how about those in the shipping department, boxing and loading far from the people you serve? Even though these employees aren’t speaking to clients day in and day out, their work directly impacts these clients. A sense of service toward the customer will make a material difference in both the work they do and maintaining the integrity of your brand. All the logo recognition in the world won’t make a difference if your product development slips during transition.
Caring for Your People
This is a priority for any organization at any time, but your relationships with your people during periods of transition become more delicate and require increased care. An overwhelmed, overloaded manager can’t deliver more than the bare minimum. They don’t have the energy, the space, maybe the confidence in the organization they serve. They likely fear change. But a supported manager who knows why the transition is happening, whose fears are addressed head on, can go the extra mile.
“No matter how much success you are having, you can’t continue to work together if you can’t communicate.” —Matt Cameron
So how do you care for your people during transition? Change Management Coach points out that the fear of change can bring about crippling anxiety that keeps teams from functioning well. This anxiety can be traced back to, among other things, not knowing what to expect and not feeling heard. Communication will go a long way in alleviating this anxiety and freeing your people to perform at their best in every area — including customer service.
One of the most meaningful things you can do is build the habit of creating a written communication plan at the outset of each stage of transition. This plan should:
1. Clearly identify all parties to the change
2. Acknowledge and demonstrate a clear understanding of the impact of the change on them
3. Determine what they need to hear, by what means and from whom
4. Identify someone to be responsible for each communication piece, and ask them to confirm when the job is done
5. Supply the means of feedback and response to feedback
Writing your plan down makes it more concrete, gives your people a reference point they can return to as often as necessary and plainly spells out what to expect in black and white. Telling someone your plan can only go so far; putting it in writing assures your staff you mean what you say and gives them more confidence that you will follow through.
“Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.” —Lee Iacocca
Rewrite your plan before each new phase of transition. This renews your commitment to keeping your people informed, reminds them you’re still committed to communicating and helping them succeed, and alerts them to any changes they can expect with each new phase. Even if there are no changes, update the plan and stamp it with a revision date so nobody’s left wondering whether you forgot about it. As Aaron Goldman said, “Communicate unto the other person that which you would want him to communicate to you if your positions were reversed” and you’ll see the pay-off in solid customer service and brand equity.
Finally, two-way communication engages your staff, which minimizes turnover and limits the risk of piling more change onto the transition. According to HR Technology, “Engaged teams show dramatically less employee turnover and absenteeism, 17 percent higher productivity and 21 percent greater profitability.”
About the Author
Randal is a results-driven, development and execution-oriented leader with more than 25 years of experience leading high performance teams. He’s a proven business professional, capable of leading change in both the boardroom and on the frontline, with a strong track record leading strategy development, entrepreneurship, performance and evaluation globally across a variety of social enterprises and functions.
Prior to joining OneAccord, Randal was the president of Profit Environment, a startup company that brings new solutions to enable CEOs to recapture profit lost due to an unhealthy corporate culture. At Design Group International, Randal was a senior consultant and his focus areas included organizational development, operations improvement, governance excellence and interim leadership.