Facing the changes

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Turn and face the strain
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes”
– David Bowie

Change is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be

This is where effective change management comes in. Whether it’s a new website, a platform migration or a major redesign, change is not only constant, it’s absolutely necessary. But there will be hurdles to be cleared.

People distrust decisions made in secret. And they can get downright panicky when changes aren’t vetted or explained in advance. This isn’t to say the workplace is a democracy. It just needs to be a transparent autocracy.

The fall of the newspaper business is a classic example of what happens when change happens behind closed doors. The newsroom staff most affected were often the last ones told of the changes, sometimes after the fact. How were they supposed to react? Not only were they told to change their work habits overnight, their very job security was threatened. Talented people – potential web “champions” — were left out of the process.

Like so many management challenges, the solution depends on communication, early and often. Explain the reasons for the change. Identify the opportunities it presents. Offer ways they can participate. Ask for everyone’s input. Address potential concerns. Listen.

Keep the proverbial door open. Consider an email newsletter, an in-house blog or a wiki to update progress. And don’t stop asking for suggestions. You don’t have to follow them all, just show that everyone’s opinion is important and welcome.

Knowledge is power. Don’t keep it to yourself.

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