Organizational Change Management Tips

 

CHANGE. It’s a word that so many people fear, especially within the organizational context….but why?

Because change is – to make the form, nature, content, future course, of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone ­- which is what many people want or find the easiest. It’s commonly known as the status quo.

The problem is that most things in life change one way or the other. So you’re either part of the change or you’re the outcome of the change. I often say that if you’re not moving forward with change, then you’re probably going backwards (not remaining the same). While it is often hard to understand and embrace change, it is important that we try to. What’s even more important is that when change is to be implemented, especially in an organizational context, it is done in a positive and managed way. That’s where change management comes in.

Change management is the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the “people side” of change to achieve a desired outcome.

Change management and organizational transformation emphasizes the “people side” of change, and when done well people feel engaged in the change process and work collectively towards achieving common objectives, delivering results, and realizing benefits. Employees within all levels of an organization must be involved to maximize the probability for success.

There are several models and processes that can be used for change management and organizational transformation including the ADKAR model, PCI (people centered implementation), KOTTER’s 8-step change model, PROSCI’s 3-phased change management process, and others. These are important, because if change is not managed effectively the risks can be high and negative for an organization. They include:

  • Morale deteriorates, which leads to productivity declines.
  • Productivity declines leading to poor customer service and lost revenues.
  • Passive resistance escalates leading to active resistance.
  • Active resistance emerges and sabotages the change.
  • Divides or silos are created in the organization between “us and them”.
  • Valued employees leave the organization.
  • Projects go over budget and past their deadline.
  • Workarounds are used to avoid the new way of doing things, or employees revert back to the old way.
  • The organization builds a history of failed and painful changes, which makes I third to hire new good employees.

This is a very broad and deep topic and I could write about it for pages, but I’ll conclude by offering these 10 general tips that usually apply to most change management initiatives.

  1. Address the “human side” systematically.
  2. Start at the top.
  3. Involve every layer.
  4. Make the formal case.
  5. Create ownership.
  6. Communicate the message.
  7. Assess the cultural landscape.
  8. Address culture explicitly.
  9. Prepare for the unexpected.
  10. Speak to the individual.

We’ve probably all experienced examples where an organization or its employees couldn’t or wouldn’t change for a variety of reasons, but everyone can do their part by being open to change, because as scary as it might seem, it often leads to positive outcomes for employees, customers, and the organization overall.

So don’t fear change, embrace it, because the world is changing around you whether you like it or not.

 

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Revenue Generation Ideas (for profit and non-profit organizations)

There are many ways for an organization to generate revenue (besides the obvious sell more and spend less options) and many of them can be used by non-profit, government, or corporate for-profit organizations alike, but with small variations in planning and implementation. Below I’ve listed and explained some common sources of revenue generation, because in today’s world and economy, every extra dollar helps an organization survive and advance.

  1. Donations – while common with non-profits, it’s not limited to those. Subject to your organization, you can seek donations from users, community members, employees, alumni, and even customers. A few ideas include:- Hold fundraising events such as golf tournaments, sporting events, or smaller events such as a dinner or bingo night. Consider having a raffle or silent auction as part of your fundraising event.- Developing a planned giving/estate/endowment program. Individuals interested in your mission may want to ensure that part or all of their assets are distributed to your organization when they pass away.

    – Developing a memorial gift program. This gives individuals the opportunity to make a gift in memory of a loved one or friend. Or, they can make a gift as a living tribute in honor of someone they care about.

    – Micro donations or crowd-funding for specific needs or events can often be better than general fundraising for needs that are unknown at the time or a general fund. People want to donate to something close to their heart.

  2. Sponsorships – seeking sponsorships (in cash or gifts in kinds – products, services, etc) from organizations that want to support your organization, or an activity, event, or celebration you are hosting. Received benefits range from cash, food, supplies, media and advertising, and a host of others that are useful and required for your event or organization. They are usually offered in exchange for a benefit from your organization – often it’s recognition through advertising and public relations as a sponsor or supporter of your organization or event.
  3.  Advertising – this isn’t applicable to all organizations however it can be to most and there are several methods including: ads in your company newsletters and related promotional collateral, ads on your website, signage in your facilities, advertising on your fleet vehicles, and other ways. This can be done manually in-house, using an agent, or using technology, especially for online ads that can generate revenue through your website, apps, and social media.
  4.  Grants – there are numerous foundations, corporations, and government entities offering grants to organizations for a variety of needs, activities, or events. Start close to home in your city or municipal office, then provincial or state and federal jurisdictions. Also search for grants online from corporations and other organizations such as universities, non-profits, and foundations. It takes time to research and apply but well worth it.
  5. Sell Proprietary Products or Services – that are developed in house by your staff. Consider legally protecting that new tool, process, or product and selling or licensing it to similar yet non-competing organizations. You may find you have a lot of proprietary inventions and processes that could generate revenue for you.
  6. Facility Rentals – sub-lease and rent facilities that are not being used efficiently, because much of the costs are already “sunk” or occurring whether they are used or not. Develop a plan that outlines costs, policies, and procedures for facility rentals and market them to community groups, organizations, and others.
  7. Host Events – if you have the expertise, facilities, or similar goals, consider hosting large events for sports, conferences, community activities, and other options. Not only can these generate revenue upfront but also indirectly as your organization benefits from great exposure and PR which can leads to increase sales revenues.
  8. Offer Training Sessions – If you’re paying to attain professional development, training, or education services for your employees, consider partnering with a similar organization or inviting community members to reduce costs. It may pay off your total invest thus saving you the money you had budgeted, or you may even generate a profit.
  9. Provide Services to Other Organizations – Capitalizing on the expertise and experience of your staff members, you can develop and conduct training programs where attendees pay a fee. Record the training sessions and develop online versions or training manuals for sale. Sell these products on your website. It may mean developing a process to “revenue share” with the employees who help in developing and delivering the training programs. But it’s a win-win.
  10. Increase Sales – no kidding right? But I don’t mean simply try and sell more, but try and sell smarter. Try new or different selling strategies or models. Look for diversification of offerings, partnering with other organizations for gains through cooperative advertising, look for vertical integration opportunities, use lower cost yet broader reaching online strategies, and others ways to increase your sales.
  11. Reduce Costs – another obvious yet often overlooked source of revenue. I don’t mean laying people off, but looking for simple and small ways to reduce costs. Small savings add up over a year and especially over the long-term.
    – Small ways include: use less office supplies, automate with technology where possible, reduce electricity and water use, or attend fewer offsite conferences and have more in house, online, or webinar based training
    – Develop a volunteer pool or have students work on projects that you need done but don’t have the staffing levels for. Also, empower your volunteers to identify and secure potential sponsors, and solicit donations.
    – A larger method is to share enterprise wide services with other similar organizations such as: purchasing, fleet maintenance, janitorial, IT, marketing and others. I don’t mean to suggest laying people off, but instead look to simply reduce or limit growing operational costs, especially while in start-up or growth stages.

Simple Steps to Domain and Website Purchasing

To support a recent article I wrote on buying a domain, here is more information that will help. This applies to most providers who sell domains and website hosting etc.

Terms

  • A domain is the website name or URL or web address. ie. http://www.yourname.com
  • The website is where your domain is presented with all your content, pictures etc.
  • Website hosting is what makes it possible for others to view your website over the Internet. Without it, you’re the only one who will ever get a look. It’s the service / tool that allows for your website to be built and stored.
  • A domain or hosting provider is a company like GoDaddy or Wix and many others who sell you the domain, and rent you hosting space on their servers for your website. * these are examples companies and not referrals from me.
  • Read the provider’s website FAQs, watch their videos, and learn about things first before signing up as it can be complicated in some respects to pick the right domain, hosting package, website tools, SSL, e-commerce, and other accessories you may need.

Costs

  • Domains are from as low as free (if you buy hosting) or if you just buy a domain it can go as high as $25 annually. Generally they are around $8-15 annually. (GoDaddy sometimes offers a domain special on for $.99 for year 1 then $9.99 each year thereafter.)
  • Web hosting can cost from as low as free, but more often around $4 for a starter package up to $100 or more per month for sophisticated e-commerce store needs, but most starter websites need a hosting package that will cost around $4-12 per month. Discounts for annual purchases are often available.
  • I’ve found that over time the prices are coming down and the sophisticated tools they offer is going up. Most providers offer super easy-to-use and DYI tools that allow anyone to build a website – these are usually called CMS – content management systems or DYI website builder tools.

Process to Get a Domain and/or Website

  1. First think of domain names you may want. Ie. your personal name, a domain based on your business or future business, or hobby etc. Write down several variations of it and think about what extension you may want. Ie. com, ,net, etc.
  2. Go to a provider website and click on ‘domains”, then search for the one you want. It will tell you if it is available or not and under what extensions. Select from the available extensions. Ie. .com, .net, .biz and many more, with many more being added all the time. The .com extension has always been the most popular and prominent but sometimes the domain you want is not available in .com so prepare to consider an alternative option.
  3. Try many configurations to find ones you like before you buy one or more. Ie. www.yourname.com www.yourname1.com www.your-name.com www.yourname.net www.mybusiness.com etc etc.
  4. Once you find the one you want and it’s available, then buy it and “park” it until you want to make a website.
  5. If you want a website right now also, buy the website / hosting package first because it usually allows you to then choose a domain during the registration purchase. (Domains are often offered for free also for a period of time when bought with a hosting / website package)
  6. You usually need a credit card to buy, and buying a year or more at a time often gets you discounts.
  7. Make sure you buy the right package but don’t over-buy because you can always upgrade. Downgrading is a little harder and you usually lose some money doing it.
  8. As a bonus, buying a website package often gets you advertising or service credits (ie. $100 to use on Google or Facebook ad platforms and other providers).
  9. If buying a website, you may be asked for your preference in control panels based on platform. Ie. Linux versus Windows, etc. Research your wants and needs and decide based on the outcomes of your research.

Contact me if you have questions or need further help.

Peter

Secure My Personal Name for a Web Domain?…..Why?

domain1

“Not only for your web domain, but for all your social media tools too!”

This is a piece of advice that I tell all my clients, friends, family members, and students I teach at university – buy your name for a website domain, and related vanity domains for social media too.

“Why, I don’t have a business or need a website”, they state. Here is what I tell them.

  • 1st most important reason: you might not have a business….today, but what about tomorrow or next year, or 10 years from now. Eventually you might own a business, your own consulting firm, be a famous person, or a politician, and you’ll want a website and quite likely will want it to be your name, or close to it.
  • 2nd most important reason: to protect it from others who may buy it and use it for nefarious uses that could hurt you and your personal brand. You don’t want to have to continually explain to people….. “no really, that’s not me doing those weird things on that website.”
  • 3rd most important reason: domains are cheap – the annual fee can often be under $10 (subject to where you buy your domain). So go without that fancy coffee one morning and buy your domain. In fact, domains are often free when you purchase a website hosting package also.
  • Vanity URLs for social media are almost always free.
  • Buy or claim your personal name, or close to it, and even buy other domains that you like or may want or need in the future based on your interests, hobbies, or career aspirations.
  • Think of it like an insurance policy. You may never need it but if you do, you’ll be really happy you have it.
  • You can park the domain and wait until you need it, or you can start a blog or website and start building traffic.
  • You can use a website to make money too with affiliate marketing, online ads, and other revenue streams.
  • You don’t need to be a web developer to build your own website. There are many DYI tools now.

After reading this, you might still be thinking that you’ll never need a domain, but for just a few bucks isn’t it worth the investment, especially for your own name? May people I’ve told this to have gone on to buy their domain and later were really glad they did.

I plan to write and post more info on how to easily buy a domain and/or set up a website, but until then if you would like more information on this or how to do buy your own domain and/or website, feel free to contact me.

 

Crisis Communications Planning – 10 Basic Tips

Crisis communication is generally designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization facing a challenge to its reputation, usually a public challenge. Communication scholars often define crisis communication as the perception of an unpredictable event that threatens important expectancies of stakeholders and can seriously impact an organization’s performance and generate negative outcomes. So why do so many organizations ignore or put little effort into crisis communications until an actual crisis occurs?

Preventative measures and preparation in anticipation of potential crises can turn reactionary crisis communications into confident crisis management. I’ve dealt with several crisis communications situations and I’ve learned the value of a few basic preparedness strategies that I offer below.

  1. What Crisis? First understand that it’s never a crisis..…until it’s a crisis, but that doesn’t mean you don’t plan for it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking “it will never happen to us”, or “we’ll deal with it if and when it happens”. An organization usually has some sort of crisis to deal with over time, large public sector organizations and universities often have several. Learn to anticipate a crisis – you’ll be better prepared for when it happens, and you may realize that some crises are preventable by simply modifying operations, procedures, and other aspects of your organization.
  2. The Team. Identify a team of key individuals in your organization who may need to be designated spokespeople, will collect and provide information, marshal media, manage communications channels (email, social media, radio, TV, others you may use), and perform other tasks. These will likely include the CEO, legal counsel, communications/PR leaders and staff, board members, agency reps, heads of major divisional units, and others. Training for spokespeople may be required and is always a good investment.
  3. Crises that Could Affect Your Organization. Research and brainstorm on crises that generally can or have affected your industry. Review articles and outcomes, watch videos, and learn about how they were handled, or mishandled. Use this intelligence to list out potential crises that may impact your organization to help you plan for managing them.
  4. Develop a plan. You can’t plan for each crisis but you can develop a general plan for any crisis. Start by answering the basics of Who, What, Where, When, Why, How. Develop policies and guidelines for employees and other stakeholders. More in-depth plans can be developed or start with a simple one, but any plan is better than no plan at all! Also consider preparing pre-drafted statements, sound bites, tweets, and anticipated QandAs for a small handful of these.
  5. Prepare Crisis Communications Kits. I’ve been told that I may have been the first in our industry to implement crisis communications kits (and I don’t mean a bunch of forms or documents). They served our team well and I highly recommend them. If your organization has multiple locations, it’s a good idea to prepare communications kits that contain a variety of useful items needed in case of a crisis. Aside from your laptop and mobile phone which you should carry with you always, a kit could contain: your plan, key contacts list, informational documents, collateral materials, signage, a portable radio, walkie talkies, pen and paper, markers, some cardstock for instant signage, extension cord, Ethernet cord, power bar, chargers, flash drive with your digital plans and supporting info on it also, energy bars, and an assortment of other items that help prepare you for what might be an extended situation. Store it all in something easily carried such as a backpack, duffel bag or similar. Keep in mind, subject to the crisis, you may not have cell or landline service among other vital services.
  6. Practice. Do a run through of a mock crisis or two with your team, department, and others as needed. Role play and pose tough questions on different scenarios with each other to test how prepared you are. Do it in front of a camera to face some pressure and then review how you do on camera.
  7. Implement Monitoring and Notification Systems. These can involve technology, social and conventional media monitoring tools, and simply educating employees on a process of staying alert and who to contact in case of a crisis. Examples include media monitoring agencies, Google Alerts, social media, text messaging, web alerts, email, and many others.
  8. During a Crisis, Understand your Position. Work with senior leadership, legal advisors if necessary, and the communications team to prepare a situation plan. Determine what happened, your explanation, and how it will be rectified and prevented from happening again. Ensure it is accurate and honest. Develop messaging and select communications channels for the situation, and stay on message, but be prepared to adapt if the situation escalates or changes.
  9. During a Crisis, Say Something. The worst thing you can do during a crisis is say nothing, no matter how bad the crisis is. Silence breeds rumours and speculation, and feeds perceptions of inaction, incompetence and indifference. Empathize with your stakeholders’ emotional state. Being accurate, factual, focused and calm during a crisis is important but you don’t want to appear uncaring.
  10. Post-Crisis Analysis. After a crisis is managed and hopefully resolved you should analyze it and how your team dealt with it in order to learn and adapt as needed. Have a review and brainstorming session to determine what was done right, what was done wrong, what could be done better next time, and how to improve various elements of your organizational crisis preparedness.

Conclusion:  Don’t take the position that doing this is a waste of time and money, and thinking that… “it will never happen to us”. That’s what many people say…and then they have a crisis. It’s worth the small investment to be prepared, proactive and professional.

 

What Is “Owned, Earned and Paid Media”?

What Is “Owned, Earned and Paid Media”?

Many marketing, communications and media relations professionals still struggle with this question. So I’m going to provide a short and summarized answer. I could write a ton of content on this and its related topics but in this case, I’ll keep is simple and clear.

But we small business owners wear many hats. Marketing may be one of 6 or 7 responsibilities you have.  In fact, you may have so many responsibilities that you’ve run out of hats (see cartoon above).

Owned media is when you use and leverage a channel you create and control.  This could be your Twitter account, YouTube channel, website, company blog, Facebook page, etc.  Even though you don’t technically own these channels and mediums, you do control them and generally don’t have to pay for basic usage.

Earned media is when offline or online media, public, or customers share your content, mention your brand via word of mouth, and otherwise discuss your  brand, company, products or services.  Simply put, these mentions are “earned,” meaning they are given by others voluntarily.

Paid media is when you pay to use and leverage a third-party channel, such as advertising on third-party sites, sponsorships or paid searches on Google.

Discussions about owned, earned and paid media tend to be in the context of larger corporations. But the concept is just as relevant to small businesses. The concept of owned, earned and paid media has content at the center.  Fortunately, small businesses are getting savvier at creating and managing content.

Forrester Research created this chart that lays it out pretty well, including the advantages and disadvantages:

paid, earned and owned media

 

Research and Surveys for Business

Research and surveys are extremely important to a business or organization, including colleges and universities and other public sector organizations, which aren’t businesses in the real sense of the word but they need to be run like a business.

Yet I come across so many people and organizations who don’t do any research and then try to run their operations or implement new strategies and wonder why they fail. Some people think they already know all the answers, or in other cases simply don’t want to know the answers as it may undermine their personal agenda or plan.

Why do it? Research is extremely useful to help understand your stakeholders, who include prospective customers, existing customers, employees, shareholders, board members, volunteers, and others. It also offers credibility to support a vision, plan or idea.

You need this intelligence to make sound strategic, operational, marketing and other decisions. You need to find out what stakeholders think about you, your organization, brand, products, services, employees, customer service, and much more. This intelligence helps you build upon your successes and improve on your challenges and problem areas.

Even if you have a good understanding of your stakeholder groups and their wants and needs, doing periodic research is important and valuable. It will guide you on what to do and not do, how to do it, what services and products to start or stop offering, what marketing and communications channels and tools to use, provide feedback on your customer services, employee relations, and much more. Plus, doing benchmark research allows you confirm your operations are successful or make adjustments along the way before going too far down a road towards demise of the organization. 

How is it done? In years gone by, doing research meant “asking people how they heard about you” when they were in your store, or asking employees to put feedback in a suggestion box, or hiring an expensive research firm to do a massive survey and/or focus group study. Today, there are so many online tools and technologies available that allow organizations to do it themselves or hire smaller firms to do the research at far lower costs.

An example of a great technology is Surveymonkey.com, where you can easily develop sophisticated online surveys with a multitude of questions formats and options. It offers many ways to collect responses, and great tools for analyzing and presenting the data. I often suggest to people to set up a survey and leave it run ongoing with periodic analysis of the data. This allows for an initial data collection and review to provide benchmark data, but then provides periodic reviews to check if the feedback changes based on the new business strategies you implemented.

To conclude, you can guess about important information leading to guessing about what strategies to use to grow and manage your organization…..or you can ask your stakeholders and make informed decisions to enhance your organization – in asking them, the return on this investment is always positive!

Want to learn more about research and surveys? Contact me for free advice.

Peter Chevrier  theemarketingguy@gmail.com

Branding – a quick explanation

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of any of these with the goal of identifying the goods and services of one organization or group of organizations and to differentiate them from those of other organizations.

It makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it’s about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.

The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

  • Delivers the message clearly
  • Confirms your credibility
  • Connects your target audience emotionally
  • Motivates the target audience to perform an action
  • Concretes loyalty with the target audience / customers

To succeed in branding you must first understand your organization’s goals, and the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. After collecting this information, other research, and going through a variety of processes, you define your brand and all the accompanying elements (mission statement, logo, colors, etc). You then integrate your brand and its strategies through your company at every point of public contact (ie. Website, brochures, advertisements, employees, etc).

Your brand needs to stimulate an emotional response within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot. )ie. Nike stimulates emotions on quality and cool factor, McDonalds stimulates emotions on convenient and inexpensive food)

A strong brand is valuable as your battle for customers and sales increases. It’s important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand because your brand is a message and a promise to your customers. It can make or break your organization.