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The Partner Perspective: When Change is On the Horizon, What Do You Do?


October 6, 2016

4 minute read

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In the second installment of The Partner Perspective (read my first post on trending skills in IT), I want to address another great question from my Cloud IT Live session earlier this year.

The question from the viewer was:

What if you are aware that change is coming, but your company isn’t? It’s not so easy to switch jobs. Any comments or advice?

Here’s the answer I gave during the webinar (see 21:39):

My answer, in short, was:

  • Switching jobs is sometimes seen as a cop out. A lot of IT professionals see change coming and they’re like, “Oh my God, run for the exit!”
  • If you know that a change is coming, this should be something management should already be aware of. Somebody must have signed off on it.
  • If you did it on your own, now is the time to repent and ask for forgiveness.
  • If this is something that someone else approved, then you are duty-bound to tell your coworkers and your organization that this change is coming. Let them know you actually have a plan for how to minimize the impact of this change. If you just come in shouting “Fire!” without the fire extinguisher, it’s not very helpful.

Although this was a fairly straightforward answer, it’s become apparent that I never really explained my rationale. I took the liberty of assuming it’s a change as a result of a new SaaS solution being implemented. For this article to have direction, I will continue to use that assumption. So here are my thoughts.

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The viewer who asked this question is right in saying that it’s difficult to change jobs, and I agree. There are times when moving on is the right decision. If you are personally miserable, get out. But this is not the case. Leaving the job on such a sour note would be burning a (potentially) valuable bridge.

What I believe this viewer is asking about is how to deal with change management when you are the only one that knows about it.

Here are four steps I recommend taking.

Step 1: Start by figuring out who else knows

Poor communication and siloed decision making in companies can leave a lot of people rummaging in the dark, unbeknownst to them that they’ve merely closed their eyes in a well-lit room.

Unless you had the decision making and purchasing power to bring forth this change, someone else will know about it too.

Find these people so that you can share your grief. Working with others will make this a less daunting task, but it will also help you avoid your own guilt, thinking that you were the only one who knew about the impending change.

I said it in my webinar, but you really need a plan before you tell more people. So next, start formulating a plan.

Step 2: To create a communication plan, figure out the “why”

First things first: You need to identify why this change is happening.

It’s cliche, but why something is happening is often far more important than the fact that it is.

By identifying the reasoning behind the change, you and your buddies can figure out the messaging. The messaging is key because it affects how the change will be received by everyone else. If it’s a new way of working, don’t advertise how much more productive people will be. The last thing your fellow coworkers want to hear is how much more they’ll be doing in the same amount of time.

Sometimes it’s as simple as saying, “We want to give you back your lunch breaks.”

Step 3: Put together a training plan

If you didn’t know, change management has two big pieces: communication and training.

Training is often seen as a frustrating necessity–something that “takes time away from the real work”–but it’s critical. Along with the communication plan, a training plan should also be developed to ensure user adoption of the new system is seamless. It can be as simple as a YouTube video of the new system or a FAQ page employees can use to troubleshoot. The objective of training is that employees feel supported as change is rolled out.

Step 4: Execute

Follow your communication plan and disseminate your message across the company. Set up their training and show everyone how their work processes will be improved.

A clear communication and training plan offers your company a solution to manage the change. Too often IT projects are only seen as system changes without properly assessing how they’ll impact people. The more you can offer to reduce the impact of the change, the less disrupted users will feel when it happens.

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Who is Kevin Liu?

Kevin-LiuAvalon SolutionsI am currently the Partner Manager at Avalon Solutions, based in Stockholm, Sweden. In my role, I help companies big and small move their business processes to the cloud. This seemingly innocuous journey can sometimes be riddled with obstacles and it’s my job to make the transition as smooth as possible through the aid of the right tools.

In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, traveling, and binge watching Netflix. With over 2150 movies under my belt, I’m not your average couch potato.