Change is the only constant. It’s also one of the most pressing management challenges out there, and one of the most ambiguous and headache-causing.
Navigating the course of change is something CSP knows all too well. In our nearly 30 years in business, we’ve guided banks, credit unions, and other businesses through the process of change as they adapt to evolutions within their industries and among their customers. Our Voice of the Customer programs reveal opportunities and needs that often mean something needs to change internally to provide a better customer experience. That might mean minor tweaks and adjustments, or major overhauls.
Along the way, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t when it comes to change management. While every business’s journey is unique and requires deliberate and careful attention, you can keep these tips in mind to smooth out the road as you proceed.
Getting Focused in a Time of Change
Decide whom to invite to the table. Nothing can shake workplace morale like poor communication – or worse, lack of communication — during a transition. Most often, this means a meeting, or a series of meetings, where your leadership team can gather and devote the necessary time and consideration to the challenge at hand. It’s important to do this before you involve employees in the process, to lay a stable foundation with defined issues, expectations, goals, and tactics.
Get prepared. Before the first meeting, assign each person to research a particular topic that will be relevant to the discussion. This is not a meeting where anyone can just “wing it.” Each person is expected to do the necessary pre-work and bring their findings to share with the group.
Topics for research could include: current industry trends and recommendations around those trends; what your marketplace will look like in the future and how your business compares; internal strengths and weaknesses (the “SW” of SWOT analysis); external opportunities and threats (the “OT” of SWOT analysis); and what is revealed by the data you’ve collected on your customers about their satisfaction and needs. If there are additional components that are relevant to your specific situation, make sure they get time on the agenda, too.
Facilitate the discussion. With so much at stake, a meeting like this needs to be run carefully, or else potentially devolve into unorganized chatter or arguments. A designated facilitator and/or scribe not only keep the group on task, they actively foster the discussion and guide the group’s priorities.
Beware the trap of groupthink that can spring up in situations like these. As new issues and ideas are brought to the table, the facilitator shouldn’t be afraid to ask provocative questions that open the floor for debate: “How many of you agree? Who disagrees? What might be the downsides we should consider?” Everyone at the meeting should feel free to contribute their opinions, even dissenting ones, without repercussion. In doing so, the issue at hand can be examined from every angle, not just the perspective of the person who was assigned to it.
Identify the external and internal benefits of change. In addition to the pre-assigned topics, you’ll want to draw special attention to how evolution benefits everyone. How will the changes, or proposed ideas, make your business more customer-friendly, or attract new customers? How are these initiatives likely to increase revenues, or control costs? What’s in it for the employees?
By deliberately devoting time to the benefits of change, you can prevent the meeting from becoming a venting session that actually discourages change instead of helping to manage it.
Narrow down the priorities. Once everything has been introduced, explained, and discussed thoroughly, don’t leave the meeting without agreeing to the priorities and next steps to implement. This might be done by a show of hands, an anonymous vote on slips of paper, or placing dots on a written chart by the top 3 ideas they support.
How well does your organization adapt to changes or integrate new policies and procedures? Have you ever worked somewhere that was change-averse? Do you have tips of your own to share? Tweet us at @CSProfiles with your stories.
And if you need direct help in navigating your evolving industry, we’re just a call or click away: contact us at 800.841.7954 ext. 101 or send us a message through our website.
This post is adapted from an article in STARS, our exclusive library of customer experience management resources. CSP clients can download training material, exercises, and articles written around specific customer experience dilemmas and solutions from STARS. Learn more.