People resist change of almost any kind. It’s natural. In the workplace, change is even harder to initiate, especially for a team of creatives.
Everyone has processes they use during the work day, which all merge into a comforting daily routine. Change brings that routine crumbling down faster than a house of cards.
Scientifically, change is actually a valid fear. Neuroscience research explains that uncertainty registers in our brain much like an error does, and no one likes errors. So, how do we make efficient changes in the workplace without everyone losing their minds?
That’s the question we recently faced when our marketing agency implemented a shift in project management systems, to unite our team and better serve our clients. We didn't jump in, we took things slow to make sure we got it right. And it still wasn’t easy, but it was a success.
Our Story and What I Learned
Our agency is growing fast. It’s a common sentiment before a business leaps into a big change of policies or procedure. Within a year, the size of our staff doubled and as our team grew, so did the need for better, more comprehensive methods of organization.
Over time, we implemented one app after another to keep communication flowing and the parts of our marketing machine moving cohesively. At last count, we were all using more than seven apps everyday, including Teamwork, Trello, Databox, Google Sheets, Keep, Slack, DropBox and more. It was obviously too much, but still, we struggled to simplify the process.
After a lot of research, our captain himself brought Asana to the table. On the surface, it seemed to solve many of the issues we were having, while serving as a singular platform to keep us organized and efficient. Asana also had features that served our individual roles as designers, content marketers, inbound marketers and developers, unifying us on one platform and creating a happier team, happier clients and an ecstatic project manager.
So why am I not in love with the change?
Well, earlier this year I had a mental breakdown while converting all my notes from Box notes to the drive (not my proudest moment). I’m still learning to trust new tech again after that mess in which dozens of files disappeared into the digital ether without a trace.
Aside from my personal trepidations, there’s a few more Impulse Creative team members also aren’t too keen on change. So, we had to go about this switch in management meticulously to get buy in from the team. I don't like to use the term “buy in,” but it’s important that key members of the team understand the mission of the voyage, to help those who are still stuck looking at the map.
Knowing the potential disaster and disapproval we faced, we leaned on the guidelines below to make the change a much more positive experience. Any company looking to initiate a change in their business, not just agencies, would do well to consider these points for themselves.
Understand the goal
As leaders of the change, we had to define a clear “why,” or purpose of this shift in management systems. What brought this about? And what is the goal of this voyage? How was this going to help unify our team, decrease stress and help our clients reach their goals?
To have those answers ready for the team, we had to sit down and list out all the “whys.” Then, we used those reasons to create on articulated and positive all-encompassing goal. We also explained what our organization would “look like” after the change.
If you have a team like mine (and I hope you do because they are awesome), do the research! When introducing a new change, there are going to be so many questions. In order to gain the confidence of your team, you need to be able to answer their questions. Watch the videos/tutorials, read the blogs and run through the new process yourself. Sit down and write a list of questions that you think they may have, and answer all of them, then do it again! Become so familiar with the change that no questions go unanswered.
Create a Plan With a Realistic Timeline
While introducing the change to your team, set them up for success. We put a reasonable timeline when all our project and client work would be needing to transfer to the new system. This makes the change less dramatic. We gave our a team over two weeks for the change to be in full effect. Our team was also given material to study up on during this time. So they were able to get their feet wet before jumping into the water.
Make Processes (Checklists, Videos)
Create a content library full of tutorials. There are millions of explainer videos on the internet, pick the best ones for the change you’re implementing, then make your own videos that are specific to your team. At Impulse Creative, we also made step-by-step directions and “how-tos”. Sure, there was plenty of content online, but using tools like Loom or Soapbox to create screen share video lead to a much better user experience than tutorial videos alone. It helps to visually see someone you know and trust using the software.
Make sure you communicate and communicate often. Don't get annoyed or frustrated with questions. Be there to help your team through this change. You don't want them getting in bad habits because they don't understand something. Even worse, you don't want them feeling lost, isolated and frustrated.
We started communicating about the change before it was initiated, so that no one felt caught off guard. I think this helped the biggest change resistors, by showing them what was coming and why, giving them time to understand and adjust.