Advertising and media have always been laboratories for change, but today change is accelerating in every business cycle all the time.
Change management consultancy Prosci notes that “because the success of organizational changes depends on individuals engaging, adopting and using them, organizations must manage changes at both the individual and organizational levels concurrently.”
This approach is not conducive to “top-down management” organizations where senior levels lay out the changes needed and expect employees down the line to embrace them. With the speed and complexity of change needed to succeed in an ecosystem like advertising, both senior management and “in the trenches” workers must be aligned.
With that in mind, here are four ways both individuals and management can — and should — approach and navigate the continuous waves of change.
Invest in Training and Skills Development
Every member of an operation has the chance to grow alongside his or her organization, and offering and showing up for training demonstrates a dual commitment to positive change.
This can happen through one-on-one sessions with in-house trainers, organized classes, outside consultants, external training workshops, conferences, industry publications & white papers as well as on-the-job change projects intentionally set up to be shared by different roles and job titles.
Strategically planning change can start from any level, any department, and any person. Certainly, senior management must be constantly on alert for internal and external developments that require pivots, but sometimes it is the line worker who sees the challenge or opportunity first.
Success depends on having change agents at all levels, and training together can bring those forward.
Foster Personal Development and Team Building
Although often referred to as “soft skills,” there’s nothing soft about them.
Ad Operations are only as good as the people who deliver the goods.
Ad Operations are only as good as the people who deliver the goods, and nothing is more human than concerns about change, job security, skill acquisition, and the future. Organizational development firm New & Improved likes to think about this in terms of the “Gator Brain,” showing us how to upshift from our “survival” instincts to a more creative response.
Often our natural impulse is to resist change and stick with what we are already good at.
Prosci defines individual change management as “supporting and enabling a person through the transition, so they can successfully engage, adopt and use a change.”
Players across different roles should also be learning these methods together, so personal bonds and trust can be established and “us vs. them” attitudes minimized.
Liberate the Silos: Cross-Pollination
Removing silos opens everyone to experience and learning that can make the whole organization greater than the sum of its parts.
It is now time for management to encourage "cross-pollination" and for employees to show initiative and willingness to learn and expand beyond their "silo".
If the structure of your organization remains split between job functions (ad sales vs. subscription tech vs. buy-side ad tech vs. sell-side ad tech vs. data tech), it is now time for management to encourage “cross-pollination” and for employees to show initiative and willingness to learn and expand beyond their “silo”.
Even if senior management leads the silo transformation process, the initiative of individuals who can embrace the role of “change agents” provides the engine of organizational crossover experience.
Open Communication Channels
It’s on leadership to communicate an organization’s vision, strategy, and road map to each employee for overall and individual success. According to Archie Gianunzio of sales software solutions provider Furious, it is vital that “everyone understands the “Why” of adopting a new way of doing things.”
This should happen before inviting a cross-section of the workforce to co-create the “How”.
Prosci defines organizational change management as “identifying, enabling, and executing the actions required at the initiative level to support impacted individuals through their transitions.”
A key aspect of communication around individual and organizational change management is listening as well as making pronouncements. In recruitment, prioritizing the ability to contribute to and continually be open to managing change, even when an opening emphasizes a certain skill, can attract the right kinds of employees.
- Organizations must manage changes at both the individual and organizational levels, concurrently.
- In a healthy organization, individuals must be co-creators, and sometimes initiators of change.
- Investing in training — around change management, broadening employee skill sets, and personal development — is important to successful change.
- Opening silos between areas of expertise or job function plus strong communication of objectives emphasizing the “Why” of a change plan are necessary.
- Success requires ongoing two-way communication, speaking and listening, along with support of individuals charged with adopting change.
* (disclosure: Creative Problem Solving was co-developed by my grandfather, Alex Osborn)