One of the great challenges facing a university pursuing a bold new branding strategy is change aversity. This can impede the successful execution of even best-laid plans. From vice presidents to junior staff on the front line, everyone must pull in the same direction.
Such challenges can be particularly pronounced at a management level. It is likely that more senior members of staff have held their positions for some time. They will be used to doing things a certain way, having enjoyed a history of success. Ideas originating from other parts of the organisation may feel like a challenge to their authority.
Change resistance at this level can be particularly problematic. These management-level staff are most likely to be those who are empowered to prevent change. They will also be able to count on the backing of those who respect them.
So, how can we approach this issue? Here are some ideas about how you might be able to bring them around to your way of thinking…
Demonstrate the value
Often the very reason that managers will try to resist change is simply their commitment. From their own experience, they will have tried-and-tested methods of how to achieve success in their field. If they are going to change the way they work, there had better be a compelling reason! This tendency will be exacerbated if you’ve fallen into the habit of working in siloes.
You will have to convincingly demonstrate how the new strategy will benefit their own department’s as well as overall results. Data, research, and precedent will be key in doing this – alongside passion and vision.
If you have fallen into the habit of working in siloes, then certainly make part of your new strategy collaborative working. And part of that should be the planning and execution of your branding strategy. Because experienced and intelligent members of staff will certainly be more invested in something that they feel part of, than something imposed from the top down without consultation.
Their contribution will be valuable. They’ll understand what resources can be called upon, and which will be needed. They’ll be able to identify potential challenges. And they will understand the intrinsic values of the university brand.
Listen to them.
Closely related to the last point is that all-important quality of empathy. If you encounter change aversion, don’t try and bulldozer new ideas through. You need to ask, what is really the issue?
It could well be related to one of the points above. Managers may feel undermined. They may feel that there is insufficient justification for large-scale change.
Or it may be something completely different. They may be worried about their own change management skills. They may worry that change portends streamlining. They might worry that they will not be able to meet new targets. They may not trust other staff members. Or many, many other reasons.
It’s your job to find out what it is that is bothering them through non-judgemental dialogue. Then it’s up to you to reassure them that there is nothing to worry about.
We can help you manage change: get in touch today.