How to Survive Change in a Digital Agency….

Kristie Colby September 15, 2015

Most people have a hard time dealing with change. It’s disruptive and it can be challenging, and yet it’s a part of life. In the online marketing industry, change is the norm. We are constantly keeping up with the latest innovation, algorithm update, advertising feature, and technology… add to that frequent personnel and client changes! So how do we cope with this constant state of change? Here are a few things I have learned that help me navigate change in a digital marketing agency

Be Open to It

If change is met with a closed mind and refusal to deal, you are in for a long, hard road.  Change won’t go away if you ignore it. By meeting change with curiosity and wonder for what you may learn, it becomes more than bearable, it becomes exciting.

There are many positive things that can come from change if you are willing to embrace it. For example, you may find that a new vendor or client brings a welcome, fresh point of view; or perhaps a new team member already has experience doing something you were hoping to try; or maybe the latest industry advancement (you weren’t very excited about learning) just saved you a ton of time.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Nothing will make change more difficult than a bad attitude.  Your attitude, positive or negative, will be contagious. It will spread across your team like wildfire. As a team leader, I have found that if I deal with a tough situation positively (trying to find the silver lining), my whole team feels they can/should do the same.  If you meet the change you are experiencing with an optimistic perspective, you will find that others follow suite.  I know that sometimes this will be a difficult proposition (a nasty new team member or change is process that causes more work can be tough to smile through) but from my experience, this is the time it is needed most.

For example, a client recently purchased a product that we are required to use and manage.  We felt the product was unnecessary, but they went ahead with the investment.  When they made the decision to buy, we had two choices:  be dragged along kicking and screaming, or try to find value in the product.  The team chose the latter and it has made onboarding that product a much more pleasant experience.  AND along the way we have discovered the product does in fact provide value to our programs.  Finding something positive in what otherwise seems like a bad situation really changes the experience and keeps it from becoming miserable.

Be Flexible

During times of change, many day-to-day tasks are called into question or require adjustment. Flexibility will enable you to try new things and potentially improve your processes.  Clinging to what is known closes you off from what could be great learning opportunities.

One of our teams recently went through two rapid rounds of client personnel changes.  During the first change we found ourselves defensive about all the requests the client was making.  The experience was frustrating for us (and the client as well).  When the second team change occurred, we were determined not to make the same mistakes.  My team spent an incredible amount of time listening to what the new client leaders needed and then thinking about how we could adjust our programs to meet those goals.  By approaching the situation with flexibility we developed a strong relationship with the client and have been productive in not only sharing a common vision but also executing against it to meet objectives.

Change Isn’t So Bad

These suggestions may seem so obvious (and they are), but in my experience these are the hardest things to do when faced with change.  It’s natural to want to deny the change, find all the reasons it’s bad, and become negative and inflexible. But that won’t lead to personal or professional growth and it won’t lead to business success.  If you can turn those feelings on their head and approach change from a place of positive curiosity, the process is not only tolerable, it can become enjoyable. You may even learn something!

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