After much exposition on the topic, I was thrilled to finally host a panel of change management experts at our office here in New York last week. We brought together executives from Slack, Salesforce, and Getty Images to discuss their change management philosophy, and best practices they discovered from their own successes and failures.







We will share a full transcription of the event next week but in the meantime, I wanted to highlight my own key takeaways on Change Management.

Plan for things to go wrong.

Like most things in life, a CRM implementation is bound to hit a few bumps in the road. Which is why, when you start a project you have to anticipate that everything is going to go wrong. Then you have to create a solution that you can put in place for if/when it actually happens.

As Greg McLaughlin put it, “you set yourself up to be successful for things that go wrong, not at that moment, but six months, nine months, or a year before something goes wrong.”

Additionally, Greg shared that planning for challenges can be a great way to build champions within your organization who will drive user adoption. When you communicate with your users, about why and how the change is happening, you should also prepare them for what can go wrong. Partnering with the users to brainstorm potential issues can yield innovative solutions and help you pre-empt problems you may not have considered.

People will feel like they were part of the project and want to work towards a solution instead of abandoning the technology at the first difficulty they encounter.

Nudge don’t push.

People are naturally resistant to change, so the manner and language you present them in can greatly impact a successful user adoption.

Mary Moseley said it best when she compared change management to swinging a pendulum. “If you swing someone too far out of their equilibrium, they’re going to be more resistant than if you just nudge them slowly and slowly and slowly to get them where you want to go.”

When it comes to change management, small incremental changes presented repeatedly and with a variety of learning styles in mind will net pushback and a faster adoption of a new CRM or business process.

Use Layman’s Terms.

Communicate the case for change in terms your users will understand, and emphasize the aspects that will resonate with them.

The average end user does not care about the back-end workflow you designed to get more accurate data when they click a button or submit a form. They do care that clicking that button will help them close deals faster and forecast more accurately.

The panelists highlighted user adoption as one of the harder components of change management because you must consider the users before, during and after an implementation process. As Derika Rosenthal put it, the simplest guide to keep your users in mind is to operate with a “What’s in it for me?” mentality throughout the entirety of a project.

Leave room for intuition.

There are many methodologies and structures you can use as a guideline for change management at your organization. However, change management is an interpersonal discipline and at the end of the day you are coming up with a strategy that affects humans. Change Management is not just about putting changes into place, it is influencing people to perform the behaviors that are going to enable them to be successful. It is sales.

You need a thorough understanding of your team and organization in order to enable adoption across departments and geographies. You need empathy, and strong EQ in addition to using one of the many methodologies.

So, don’t forget to leave room for intuition when going through a change management process.  

Check back next week for the full transcription!