Guest Post by Jamie Garantziotis

Change is a-coming

I was reading through Lauren Drell‘s overview of how to manage a re-brand in Mashable recently and began to reflect on my own experiences through a company re-brand and merger, and lessons I could pass on to fellow communicators.

As a brief back-story, in May I returned to Australia after three weeks in New York … right in the middle of a company merger. I was immediately given the opportunity to move interstate to work within a new and combined marketing and communications team of six people (a big change coming from a team of one).

The team has since launched a new corporate brand both internally (across more than 2,000 employees) and externally, as well as new brand launches for a number of consumer brands that sit under the larger corporate banner.

It’s been an experience of fitting into a new team and culture. Here’s what I’ve learned, and how communicators can embrace and make the most of such change.

1. Look for the opportunities.

As human beings, it seems we automatically look at the negatives or limitations when facing change. Sure, there’s always going to be give and take and limitations, but don’t let these define your experience.

Instead, look at all the new potential opportunities and your ability to develop both personally and professionally as a result.

2. Be flexible.

Each person and organization has their own routine and culture – no two are exactly alike. The truth is that in these circumstances, we need to share our systems and processes and work together to identify best practice and protocol moving forward.

Be flexible in your approach and consider new ways of working and communicating.

Don’t view processes and methods as mutually exclusive, but look for that overlap where they can be improved to create even better practices.

3. Listen and observe.

It takes time to settle in to a new environment. Treat every introduction, meeting and conference call as a chance to really listen, observe and learn.

More than getting to know those around you and gauging the tone of the workplace, it’s an opportunity to evaluate your own methods and processes and identifying how you can adapt and improve them to work in a new environment.

4. Speak up.

Yes you need to listen and observe, but you equally have to speak up and contribute. It’s not easy to sit down and put your thoughts and opinions on the table in a new environment with new individuals (especially when addressing those in the C-suite!).

However, sitting back as a permanent passive observer is of no benefit to a team – especially during a time of change. That doesn’t mean you need to scream for attention and impose your opinions on others.

Instead, be willing to share your ideas and constructively workshop and refine them with others.

5. Ask questions.

As an extension of speaking up, don’t feel embarrassed to ask questions. Change can be a time of great uncertainty for all involved, so rather than proceeding with fear and doubt, ask away and be sure. That way, you can move forward and work with confidence.

Six months down the road…

I’ve been extremely fortunate to learn from my new team in the past six months. Winding the clock back to January this year, I’ve learned lessons I could not have anticipated, which makes them even more valuable.

I certainly would not be the same communicator today without that change experience.

What do you think? Have you been through a period of change recently? What are some of the big lessons you learned? Have I missed some important lessons or tips about being a communicator during a period of change? I’d love to hear.

Image:  changerous63, via Flickr, CC 2.0

 Jamie Garantziotis is a communication professional based in Melbourne, Australia, where he is PR Manager – Regional for Southern Cross Austereo. He is the current Member Communication Chair for IABC Victoria, Australian correspondent / co-host of Engage TV, and in his spare time loves to indulge his passion for communication, cycling and speciality coffee.