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Friday, October 21, 2011

Building Support for Change

Whenever I speak about marketing, I am constantly asked, "How can I convince my administrators / staffers / colleagues to change the way they work to incorporate these marketing and promotional strategies?" So I couldn't resist attending the session at Internet Librarian 2011 entitled Building Support for Change & Customer Relationships.

The presenter who addressed this aspect most directly was Christina de Castell, manager of online information & news at Vancouver Public Library in Canada. Budget cuts forced her to implement major changes in staffing, workflow, and the physical setup of her floor of VPL.

Without going into all the changes she made, I'd like to share how she convinced staffers to work with her and to support the changes, many of which would affect them greatly. Part of making this work was simply planning ahead. 

  • Tell staff that it's OK to try new things and fail.
  • Assign all staffers to be on one of the project's "action teams."
  • Set goals together; be open and transparent.
  • Have brainstorming sessions.
  • Invite and listen to feedback.
  • Have weekly progress meetings that were informative, but not mandatory.

During this project, de Castell encouraged collaboration and made the planning part of the fabric of people's jobs. When they brainstormed, writing ideas on giant sticky notes that hung on the walls, she left those sticky notes up so everyone could see and ruminate on the ideas. 

The group kept stats for benchmarks early on. After the changes were made, they evaluated usage again, and in a 1-week sample, they had 50% more patrons on the floor of the building where the updates had taken place. Proof that they did, indeed, attract more students!

The bottom line in this change-management story was this: Bring everyone along for the ride. Let them voice opinions and work together to shape the change. Give them a personal stake in the project. All these actions help people to care about what's going on and to accept change more readily.

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