Managing and communicating complex change is no easy task. When change happens in organizations, timelines often compress. People can feel anxious, and even resistant. They see a massive movement forward and ask, what is my role and how can I add value?
I’m thinking about this as our own business is experiencing both the excitement and, at times, the uncertainty of change following the national expansion we announced in January.
How will I work with my new colleagues? Will they respect me? Will they trust me? How can we hold each other up and achieve even greater things together than apart?
It’s sobering to be thinking about change management from a deeply personal perspective. In my colleague Jessie Sitnick’s recent blog post, Communicating with empathy in an era of disruption, she looks at leading change management theories, all of which recognize our psychological experience of change. The fact is that change is fluid and organic. It’s about people. And, we must understand and respect the fact that people need fulfilment at many levels to willingly accept the new, the strange, and the scary.
As Argyle is an organization as deeply rooted in public engagement as communication, we will be thinking of and practising what we advise our clients to do on their own change journeys. Some highlights for me include:
Communicate more than you think is necessary. Recognize that it is not business as usual and people will have a heightened need for information. At Argyle, one of the first things we did was launch an internal newsletter. It features the stories of our colleagues and news of our integration.
Create safe spaces where people can share ideas and feedback. We’ve held employee information and engagement sessions at both the local and national levels. We also have an anonymous comment box, so colleagues can share their most personal or pressing questions. These comments and questions are addressed openly – both the easy and the more challenging ones.
Gather, listen and learn. And then reflect back, in our own words. This is what I’m most looking forward to: working together with new colleagues to develop shared work plans, set mutual goals and listen to learn, learn, learn.
Incorporate a diversity of ideas and experiences in the true belief that together we can make better decisions. This I think is our greatest opportunity: To bring new ideas and skills to our clients, and to one another.
Change that happens to you is invariably hard. But change that happens with you can be deeply rewarding for everyone.
While I know we will have bumps on the road ahead, I look forward to our own change journey, and mapping our path through dialogue, collaboration, new ideas. And, ultimately, new friendships.
About the Author:
Roanne Argyle leads the Corporate and Public Affairs Practice (CPA) at Argyle Public Relationships. An award-winning communicator, her work intersects the disciplines of public engagement and corporate communications. Under her leadership, Argyle’s CPA team helps clients listen, learn, communicate, and engage in dialogue through multiple channels – resulting in better decision-making, more reputable businesses, and stronger trust between organizations and their stakeholders.