What permanent waves and bad haircuts teach high growth companies about change

hair raising change can be good for brandsWhen major changes are underway, it can be quite uncomfortable for employees. Like the shock of an unfortunate haircut, new initiatives may cause collective distress and the desire to hide. Or they could be as exciting as a brand new 'DO!

At a breakfast meeting this week, a CEO friend was telling me about some major changes she's been implementing at her company. Some of the employees are grumbling. They thought after all last year's changes, this year would be smooth as silk. My friend is visionary and a highly effective leader. For high growth companies like hers, "smooth" doesn't exist any more. So how to help everyone thrive in what's sometimes a hair-raising environment?

accentuate the positive
Though change can be scary, it can also be thrilling. Whether it's a complete makeover, or just a trim, if target audiences can share the vision of the "after," then the process can be enthusiastically adopted. Here are a few DOs:Electric hair curlerThanks to Daryl Mitchell and Wikipedia for this glimpse of a once-popular permanent hair curling machine.

  • If it's a brand new initiative, have a kick-off party to let employees know what's happening. Make sure it's high-energy and exciting. And help them know their individual importance in making it a success.
  • If you've been in perpetual change, don't forget to give regular reports back to the troops. Keep them apprised and keep communication open both ways.
  • Tie the work back to your brand. Make sure that people understand how what you're doing builds the brand and makes it stronger for everyone on the inside (not just external customers).
  • Cheer for small successes. A BHAG is great, but don't wait till the very end. Have some small "pop up" celebrations to keep people looking ahead and feeling their best.

make it permanent
Don't let the business of the day get in the way of good communication. If you leave employees wondering—or worse—feeling frazzled and unable to see above the fray, that early buoyancy will fall flatter than a cheerleader's hair in the rain.

  • Take a page from the military: create some code names for internal champions or key benchmarks. That insider language is powerful glue.
  • Don't forget to have mission moments at the beginning of meetings. Keep everyone continuously focused on the goals.
  • Incorporate the vision of the "new, improved" brand into daily language.
  • Use visual reminders, too (think rest rooms, break rooms, social media, intranet, employee parking area, internal correspondence).
  • Make sure people don't think this is just a fad. Explain the WHYs.
  • Thank them! Don't just celebrate the success, celebrate the people who helped make the success happen.

For many high-growth companies, change is the new normal. Help internal audiences embrace it and share the thrill of the change with you. If you make it personal and make it genuine, you brand will be ready for any close-up at any angle.

If you need help energizing important changes for your brand, call Martha at 785.969.6203.

Tags: internal brand, employees, high-growth companies, change management, internal communications

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