103: Panel: Managing Change

103: Panel: Managing Change

This week we return to a panel, where I talk about managing change with these six awesome leaders. We come to the conclusion it involves data, a 4-type taxonomy, a workshop, and a lot of cheese.


I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello and welcome to Episode 103 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we have another panel for you and this time we’re talking about managing change.

I’d like to welcome back to the podcast today Stacy Justino Ryan Klausner, Greg Skirving, Simone Secci and Hilary Dudek and welcome first time guest Lauren Fearn. Lauren is a senior manager of global core support at Zapier and joins us for the first time today. Let’s dive straight in.

So I’d like to welcome everyone to this week’s panel. Thank you for joining me, everyone, this panel is about managing change in the workplace. And I know you’ve all worked through a lot of change in your support teams one way or another in your organization’s have actually quite quite a different set of organisations looking at my panellists here today so I’m really interested to see where some of these points take us. The first thing I’d like to get a feel from from y’all is how hard it is to manage change. What’s the hardest thing you’ve encountered? Or or the the most difficult thing you found about managing change in the workplace

Simone Secci 1:34
was reading something about values last night and and then I went completely different way and I went straight to the source and I was reading this quote from from philosopher that I didn’t know that says, enough Forgive me for my Italian accent trying to read this, this English code, but The relationship between the worthwhile and the practically demanded are obviously up there deep, badly unkind. And that made me think about, like, the practical demanded the most difficult experience that I had, which was facing out an organisation that was like, in a company that was failing. And, and slowly like, you know,

having to, let’s say off board to use a soft term, like all the people in my team one by one through the course of like several months, and I think that was that’s probably the most difficult type of change that you are going to encounter and manage as a leader in an organisation. So I think that will be my experience.

Charlotte Ward 2:51
Yeah. offboarding is definitely a type. It’s a structural change to the company. We we’ve had. We’ve had a panel discussion question A few weeks back, I think talking about off boarding people, but we don’t often touch on what’s left behind and how you manage, manage the people that are still there. Right.

Simone Secci 3:10
Exactly. And especially, I think, what makes them our list is when that is, you know, an external cause. And it’s not due to a disciplinary act of some kind or a lack of commitment from the people that work in your team, but it’s simply like, you know, the traumatic business occurrence, let’s call it like that, that causes you to, to have to make the best of it.

Greg Skirving 3:39
Yeah, that’s, that’s kind of interesting that you started with that, because that’s a big change. And obviously, fraught with a lot of uncertainty for the people that have to stay. So I think, you know, for me, I’ve dealt with that one a few times I’ve dealt with, well, how many times have we implemented a new system and that’s a change or a new question. Yes, and you have to do that. Making sure your communication is precise. Is is critical, I think, and working with people understanding your people in terms of how they, how they handle change. Some people get it, like no great, no problem. Hopefully, hopefully, you folks have heard of the book Who Moved My Cheese, which is a fantastic tool that I like to use for people that that struggle with change. And, but I think from a manager perspective, some people get it right away, no problem, okay, we’ll do it like this. Other people, it’s going to take a lot longer for them. And that’s, that, that’s a bit of a challenge to, you know, be patient with them, support them through that and, you know, just just let them know that this is the direction we’re going with whatever. And, you know, how can I help? I think

Hilary Dudek 4:55
part of that, helping them understand can be setting actually Expectations wherever possible, sometimes the changes out of our control or support leaders. But wherever possible, putting that control back into the team’s hands, I found can be really helpful, including them on decisions, even if you know, maybe they’ve already been mostly made getting their input and feedback and making sure they feel valued. And they feel heard. And then setting expectations around, whatever the changes, okay, here’s what’s going to happen in two weeks, here’s for three months, six months, whatever the case may be, it helps. I found it helps the people that hire have higher stress levels to sort of manage that anxiety better. I think

Stacy Justino 5:39
related to that, what Hillary was saying, especially when it says, change that the support leader support team doesn’t have full control over because a lot of that stuff comes top down is also highlighting the things we do have control over in our team with this chain. So hey, this is a business decision. These are the things that aren’t like movable, but here are the things that we can make decisions on how to make this change for our customers.

Ryan Klausner 6:04
to echo what everyone’s saying it’s very interesting. In preparation for this topic, I was reminded of about a workshop two different workshops I was fortunate enough to take about eight years ago, one was at the topic about thriving in times of change just as an individual contributor. The other one is about leading change for leadership and management. And they and I was going back to my notes here from that workshop. Yes, I still have my notes from the workshop but years ago, it basically categorised a team members when dealing with change into four different categories. I thought that this was really insightful. The one is for those who are the people who actually are nostalgic for the past. They’re not necessarily opposed to change, and they’re not even happy with the status quo. They’re actually harking back to a, an earlier time. That could have been when they first started at the organisation things were done a certain way. So any change that has come has been met with perhaps some resistance. But it was mostly about a simpler time it was based on how things were. Usually when they started. The second group

are usually less enthusiastic about the change themselves. But they’re more sort of stuck. The only change, when given no other choice is if this is the clear direction that we have to go. So sort of when push comes to shove, they will change. The other group is willing to change but they want to be led, you have to really make a clear path to what the change is explain the rationale and the purpose for that change. And then the fourth group, were those who were very much wanting to be active participants in leading that change, even if they’re not necessarily leaders very willing to engage and knowing and I think, quite frequently, no one is just one of these I know myself, I’m likely a combination of a couple of these ones. So I’m sure we all can identify where we fit, but knowing where your own team members sit In terms of their position, from your experience working and leading them, I think can have a lot of influence into your strategy when managing and implementing the change itself and how you communicate that edit and manage your various team members.

Charlotte Ward 8:13
I think and something that I’ve experienced, which is very kind of along the theme of, kind of, I guess, personality types, is that when you’re working in support, and there’s a change that’s coming about that is related to your customers, you’re, for the most part going to be working with relatively empathetic humans. And so trying to navigate something that you know, isn’t always necessarily going to be seen as opposed to with being with people who are so invested in what’s best for their customers and can take a little bit of time and base definitely worth getting those folks on board. Sure.

Greg Skirving 8:46
So it’s funny, you, you you categorise those groups, right. I think that was really good. And I know that for me years ago in managing Sharla knows I’m big on perspective, I handle change very well. So for instance, an office move, right? Like, they put boxes on your on your desk, Friday, you pack it up, right? You pack everything on your desk, and you go home for the weekend. And then Monday, you get in your car, and you just drive to a different office, you unpack your stuff, you do the same thing that you did before. It’s just, you know, and I struggled a little earlier on because I didn’t understand people had different perspectives and how disruptive these things are, you know, and I couldn’t understand. So that was a learning a learning curve for me to understand that people look at things differently and and for whatever reason, and I love I love you sharing the the breakdown of the four groups that run that’s, that’s really good. It really sort of puts things into into perspective, so that you can identify why people may be resistant to change so that you can apply the right the right remedy to help them out.

Charlotte Ward 9:57
Yeah, I agree. I think it’s really easy to assume everyone responds and should respond even in the same way that we do to change. And maybe maybe as our leadership journey progresses, because we’re so used to managing change because we have so much more visibility to it as well, right? That’s a big part of how agile you have to become as a leader, when you’re leading a team, you have that visibility that an IC doesn’t necessarily have. So you’re kind of more used to going along with things and being able to manage them personally anyway. And you assume that because you you have that visibility, and therefore you have managed to manage the change personally, that everyone else should just be able to kind of roll with it as you’re rolling with it.

Simone Secci 10:44
I think that the you know, you mentioned that having a process or a strategy for change, and about organisation size. I think my you know, biggest challenge was going outside my comfort zone. In terms of like, not being part of organic change was in my first work experience, I started from a very entry level and they went until a certain point and I got into a leading role. And, and then I started growing that organisation grow organically, one person who, however many people, like, at some point that, you know, as you progress with your career, it’s not always going to be organic growth, you’re going to sort of come in, you know, and like braking or decrease those in the room or like the grace of an elephant, you know, because you are you have to push the fence like practical change. And, and you’re either to drastically change things or organisation and that organisation already as methodologies processes, the, you know, probably wouldn’t working or wouldn’t ask you to make that change. You have to first of all, the interest of those people that were in that team and convince me that like you have the right recipe to change that in a way in a way that they’re not used to. And they don’t necessarily know. And I think the difference between this organic change and and more artificiality artificial change is very clear. You know, it was it became very apparent to me in a certain point, and then obviously, grows organically from a certain point again, but there’s a stark difference between these two aspects. And it’s much easier to build a strategy in an organic growth situation than it is with an artificial change situation.

Charlotte Ward 12:50
Do you think that we have more do you think we have a higher proportion of people who are more resistant to Change in bigger organisations, do you think that’s just a natural byproduct of having that kind of detachment from from the decision making process that drives the change?

Ryan Klausner 13:12
I think it can be dependent on the actual team and organisational structure its structure more at the macro level than the overall size of the company. I can tell you as someone who was a manager of unionised workers at one point in their career, managing change within that organisation was much more resistant because of the because of the unionised protections. I think those are all great things. But because of the protections that have been put in place, to protect the worker also have given them a lot of protections to potentially have more resistance. And a lot of the folks I worked with there would have been classified in that category where they’re more harking back to that simpler time that time and they started with the In this it was actually government at that point. So when they started, and in many instances that was pre computers pre internet when the computers weren’t going down all the time, and they were resistant to that change. But I also think just in addition to the four categories of the type of people that you’re managing, or leading through change, so important to break down the types of change that we actually deal with within a professional environment, because there really is only four categories. I was, again, reviewing my notes from the workshop, and it’s been actually good. It’s like revisiting an old lesson. You’re like, Yes, I remember that. That was good. I should look at these notes more often. But the the four types of changes that we deal with certainly in a professional context are technological changes. So that could be just change of tooling, Help Desk software, anything that is a change of technology, hey, I’m gonna have to switch out your laptop, not my laptop. You know, you’re getting a newer one, but it’s just the change, operational changes, so that could be reorganisations layoffs. Team changes anything within the organisation strategic changes. So that could be going to focusing on a completely different vertical or direction in terms of the strategy of the company, and then a mission change. So that could be moving from a B to see focus company from b2b or any of those and some of the mission changes often would fall into strategy and vice versa. But it really just comes down to those main hierarchal categories of change and then learning how to work with those personalities within those four other categories. And again, just like with the other ones, a lot of those overlap, but I think the breakdown can really be helpful to understand how to best tackle

Simone Secci 15:43
the strategy from within your own team.

Charlotte Ward 15:48
So so then with the different kind of sizes and types, maybe as you said, it’s not so directly related to size but with the different types of organisation and those different types of changes that you were talking about, do you think it’s important that whatever the combination there that we really have a process or strategy for managing the change itself?

Greg Skirving 16:12
I’d say absolutely, again, you you need to understand what type of change it is. And then you need to understand why a person would object to that change. Because that provides you, I mean, that’s the root cause of the of the issue that you need to handle. And you need to identify that and so that you can apply the right remedy. If you don’t, you know, you might, you might, you know, obviously, make things a lot worse for that person because you’re treating them as as one of the different four times.

Stacy Justino 16:50
The process having a process for it is super important. Um, I think that also through having a process you can create a culture on your team. That is more amenable to change. If you go through a big change, everybody your team sees, oh, that wasn’t so painful leadership, I’d really considered the impact to us the impact to customers, then I think you can shift that culture and shift people’s thoughts about change. And I think one of the pieces of the process that is super important is a feedback loop is, you know, this change is happening. But we should give people on our team, the opportunity, and the channels to be able to give us feedback on how that change actually went. What I like to say is, we didn’t grow all the old documentation of fire. So if we make a change, we change the process, we can see how it was better or worse or different than the old process. And even if the change didn’t work out how we thought we can probably learn something and improve the old process if we want to go back to the old process. But we’ve learned something, and it wasn’t all for naught. I love what

Greg Skirving 18:00
you said, Stacey. And I think for me, if we can anticipate, I’ll talk about communication, we can anticipate where where the potential obstacles will be, which is always uncertainty. Right? I mean, typically people don’t like not knowing or feeling that they have something taken away. And then your your example, Stacey, I love the fact that, you know, we’re going to do this and you know, we’re, we’re, we’re committed to it, but we’re, we’ll look at that, and maybe we’ll make some changes. That’s great communication up front, I think so that. It, it dispels as much uncertainty as as possible for people.

Lauren Fearn 18:38
One thing that just to piggyback off your communication partner, Greg, one thing that we have kind of instilled in everybody up here is that when you roll out a change, you should talk about it three times before it’s kind of publicly posted. So we have like an internal blog async, which everybody posts their kind of like change logs, results, logs, company strategy, things like that. And before it gets to that point, it should have been talked about three times. So whether that’s a discussion on Slack, or whether it’s in a small team meeting, or

Charlotte Ward 19:10
whatever it is, you know, having those conversations before it gets to like a very public place, is kind of key to rolling out specifically kind of strategic changes. So people can get to when they get to that point, they see all that information is like, Yeah, I know all of these things. I have questions, and I know where to go with them. So nothing is a surprise. Like, we don’t want anything to be a surprise. And that’s worked really, really well. And having that transparency, that visibility into all these strategic decisions and changes that we make. It really does foster this culture of, of being okay with change. And it is interesting for new folks to join the company, when they see the level of transparency around change to strategy and things like that is kind of the kind of like okay, I didn’t know I would get to deal with this stuff and So yeah, that’s a it’s a shift in, in what people expect from a company. But it’s something that has been really successful for us. I’d love to hear a little bit more about that, Lauren, if I can, because I’m curious about the process that you go through getting that change in front of three people, most particularly First off, I am interested, is it the same set of people that have that discussion three times? Or is? Or is that three different groups that you’re kind of test running the idea on?

Unknown Speaker 20:30
Yeah, so it’s a bit of both, really. So the way that we kind of operate in terms of the way that our customer support team works is up here is that we have our regional team. So we have a mayor, we have a mess, and we have Asia Pacific. And then within that we have team leads who are all regional based as well. So there’s like, only four individual contributors to a team lead, and then maybe two or three team leads to a manager, etc. So there’s no it’s very easy to communicate. And that’s part of the reason why we Have that structure and the way that the process that we kind of take, when those changes are kind of coming about is, there may be some sort of discussion that happens on slack. And that can be anybody in the company kind of gets involved with that. It really depends where it takes place. But we don’t really love to have conversations like that any private channels.

Simone Secci 21:19

Unknown Speaker 21:21
so that conversation can take place. And then the next phase would be that it will get talked about in one of the small team meetings. So all the team needs to have a meeting every week, and where they can, you know, there’s not really any agenda that we say you have to talk about, you know, x y, Zed every week, it’s kind of up to the team lead, but that will always come up if there’s a change to discuss. And, and then the next part is we have like a monthly team meeting. We have two team meetings a month, the time zones, and we talked about it though as well. So that’s generally the process that we take. And then Aside from that, there’s also if there’s like a discussion happening, we we basically have Just go plugs up your head, we use that to react to to a message in slack and it gets, essentially a form gets filled out so that that gets sent into our monthly support newsletter so people can be aware of that discussion happening. And then once all that’s taken place, and we know that everyone knows, then it will get posted in a sec. So and that process can be relatively long winded, it will always take about a week. But the thing that we’ve learned in the past year, I would say specifically, it’s up here is this change management stuff shouldn’t just never be rushed. unless you absolutely have to rush it. Just don’t rush it. And it’s way more effective if you take your time do it right.

Simone Secci 22:41
One thing that I mean, I think one thing that I did, and that I facilitate in my last role, it was to create a communication between departments within a company when change was happening. There was just as good as the communication that was going to come out to the customers, right? Because your communication to the customers is going to be like I just described as your internal communication. So if the internal communication between the departments and I was talking with somebody this week about the feedback loop between product and support, and so, specifically, their connection there, if that connection isn’t effective, your external communication is not going to effective. So involving creating visibility for the support team, to be at the forefront have to remind the rest of the company that of the existence of you know how to act to be involved in the in the feedback loop is not to be assumed at all. When you’re in a management position report. You have to be that disability, you want to bring those people in the forefront in your team. They have to be involved in the feedback loop that can be Beta phases in the launch of like a product, for example, like closed beta, open beta. And you are to, to have, for example, the folks that take care of like Dale 70, to be involved in those phases, gathering that feedback from customers in those phases, involvement in the decision making, even if it’s just like in terms of being there, when decisions are made, being informed about those decisions, and then managing that language that needs to be proactively fought to be going out to the users. I think this facilitating the creation of this loop between people and the company, I think it’s probably the biggest part of manage change. We’ve all

Charlotte Ward 24:44
got some really good theories and really good strategies and really good approaches there from managing change within our organisations or from workshops.

Unknown Speaker 24:55

Charlotte Ward 24:58
I’m kind of interested in making Give us a bit more personal now.

Unknown Speaker 25:03
And I would love

Charlotte Ward 25:04
for you to bring like just bring all of your dirty laundry to this next part of the discussion. Which is what’s been your biggest difficulty? What’s been your worst experience with change either in your current organisation or in the dim and distant past, which may be slightly more broadcast

Simone Secci 25:24
if it broadcasts the ball like bad experiences, so that’s no problem. Yeah, okay. I, for a period of time I manage the difficult change which is like setting up shop in a different country and a different part of the world for organisation. And sometimes it went well, sometimes it went wrong. And I would say, you know, there are and Shall we talk about this specifically about like a cultural differences in understanding cultural differences, but it’s also So not just the part where you explain it to customers, but for me, there was also the bar when you were explaining it to people that I used to manage the change and to sort of like, slowly lead them into a better understanding of the place where they go into to set up shop. And sometimes that’s easy. And they they get in sometimes they don’t. And so how do you make the best of that situation? I would say, I think you have to make sure to sort of like, you know, we have an expression, it’s like putting ns forward. So being very ver on the explanation of what’s going to be like to face this change and what is going to be drastically different and try to not assume anything that this you know that people will think about the context that they don’t know. So you know, you’re opening a branch of a company in a different country. All the regulations, the bureau See how is that different from the one of the people that are in the country that they’re from? Like, how, you know, you have to be very fair and understanding what to explain what they probably will not be okay with and now to sort of like, ease them into it. And I think for me, yeah, that’s that was like, the most difficult part when there was like, a very stark cultural difference, a very stark difference. And, you know, I don’t know, benefits are managed out and the ryan mentioned, like a union. Yes. organisation, right. So for me, I work in the US I work in Europe. I’m used to both like I’m used to, no, no, this period before, firing people. And I’m also used to like, all the very strict regulations. So they’re in a country like Germany, which is a very bureaucratic country if you’re not familiar with it. Where even things like remote work, or CDC regulated and just calling something home office or remote makes a legal difference? You know, so like this type of thing. It’s not immediate at all, in the mind of a lot of people. And I think that that was like, the biggest difficulty there.

Hilary Dudek 28:21
I worked at a company, I won’t say which one, and that for reasons decided that they needed to implement a salary reduction across the board. And whether or not I agree with the decision, it still was not. leaders were not informed ahead of time people, leaders in general. So it was dropped on everybody at the same time in a group meeting. So managing the chaos and the fallout from that was extremely difficult, because of course, my team came to me. Well, I had all these questions about it, and how long have you known about this and I hope they Believe me, I was like, I just learned about this the same as you. And so this is less of a learning I get well, this is a learning for the companies rely on your people, leaders, they’re there for a reason. And if you communicate these things to them, even if we disagree, we can help you mitigate some of the chaos that ensues from unpopular decisions. And if you arm us with some talking points or some facts, we can twist this for you, especially support leaders, we’re good at that we can turn this into a positive somehow. So make sure that you you get us on our on your side, I think and so in the in the fallout for me, what I did was, I instituted half days off rotating for the team. My thought was, you’re getting paid 15% less. I’m gonna let you work 15% less as long as the queues are covered and the customers are happy. You take care of you. That’s what I can do. company can’t do it, but I can do it for you. So that’s what I did, but I certainly probably could have done more or at least I’m better prepared had I been prepared.

Charlotte Ward 30:01
I worked for a company several years ago that went through a process of changing their pricing structure. So this was like a build your own website platform. And we had loads of different plans that were all kind of incrementally different. And they ranged from being about three quid to 99 pounds a month, I think it was. And there was way too many. And there was all these customers on these very, very specific plans. And it was really complicated to support. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that with SAS specifically. And so they made the decision to say, right, we’re going to, we’re going to switch out to like four plans. And we’re going to put all of our customers into these plans. And so the initial plan was for us to say we’re going to move everyone to the next plan that kind of suits them the most. And the thing that was kind of problematic about it is because we sort of didn’t, we knew that our customers weren’t going to be happy about it, because some of them we’re going to lose features. But we just didn’t have very good data to understand what that actually is. He was going to look like and it was a very manual process, even down to looking at a spreadsheet and looking at what features some people had. And we had 10,000 customers. So it was a horrible spreadsheet. And so that was really hard. And the biggest thing, really, for me during that process was trying to help the team to understand what might happen without knowing what was going to happen. So just really managing through quite a lot of ambiguity and not having data was a massive problem. That’s something I’ve taken away from that situation to always have the data to back up the thing that you’re changing if you can, and also to it’s really important, I think, to train leaders around you to be okay with ambiguity as well as a skill that I’ve really tried to push Zapier as well because and sometimes we just don’t know I think this year has probably shown up for most people don’t use don’t know what’s going to happen. And so getting good at being okay with ambiguity is a really important skill, I think. I think that’s a really good point. I love a database Change, I really do. But sometimes you have to accept that data, data.

Data is better than no data. And it’s okay if it’s imperfect, or if it doesn’t give you clear conclusions. Ultimately, sometimes you just have to pick pick a path. And it might not be based on the best data. But that’s still better than making no decisions and taking no action when something very clearly has to change.

Lauren Fearn 32:27
Definitely, yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s even if even if it’s not perfect, it’s just important to have something for sure. And it just it feels like sometimes if you’re trying to roll something out, and you’re not, you don’t have anything to back it up. If that’s the thing doesn’t have very much credibility. So how is how are you going to get people to invest in it? That’s the thing that’s always on my mind about change.

Unknown Speaker 32:49
Has anyone here

Charlotte Ward 32:50
had an idea for a change and has not managed to convince the relevant stakeholders

Unknown Speaker 32:55
to buy into that change will come in

Unknown Speaker 33:01
Oh, you

Ryan Klausner 33:02
know, I’ll go, I’ll go, I think we’re all going okay. Well, you know, we may be dealt with something recently. So I dealt with something very recently. Now I’m not going to name names, but it’s recent. So it is in my current role. And we might department, my team ended up managing some of the custom configurations for some voice bots. And I think what had happened is we were a larger team. And then our team changed in size for a variety of reasons. So our initial interest and willingness to learn a tool to be familiar with it to benefit customers so we can understand it and explain it on a very tangible level ultimately evolved in US owning this tool, which was definitely not a tool that a customer facing team should own. It’s definitely much more of a technical services based tool. And I have been working for some time to transition the responsibilities for this story. rollouts out of our team’s reach is the one thing that the entire team is working on. It didn’t particularly enjoy doing. It wasn’t really in their primary skill set, although we learned it well, doing anything in it took us far longer than it would someone who would be an engineer on it working in a services capacity. But for whatever reason, my requests kept falling on deaf ears but wasn’t getting any action to resolve this in some form. And I think for a variety of reasons. It hadn’t maybe I’ve been too diplomatic in my communication previously, not fully emphasising and in my communication, the extent of the extent that it was D prioritising us from our primary customer facing responsibilities of which we were actually being measured against this did not come into any of the KPIs or core responsibilities of our team. And we were ultimately I think, totaling probably about 20% of our time in this tool. So was significant. So I had to ultimately really quantify this for it to be inherently understood and then also make some very specific recommendation as to who could potentially assume this responsibility as we make this transition away. As usually with these sort of situations as it evolved into us being a de facto owner of this, even though it wasn’t really an owner, but it was sort of an owner like relationship with this product. We needed also figure out the evolution to give it back.

Simone Secci 35:30
I think, just this week, we may have gotten there. So I’ll follow up with you later.

Ryan Klausner 35:36
But I’m feeling optimistic today. And I think it took a lot of direct communication to get there.

Unknown Speaker 35:43
We do expect you to follow up Yeah.

Charlotte Ward 35:47
We’ll be We’ll be waiting on the on the website, or on your next appearance on the podcast, maybe for a for an update on that one.

Hilary Dudek 35:56
My manager is in Sweden. So she’s quite a cultural Difference between Sweden and the US. So the email that you mentioned that direct communication, that’s what she calls hard emails. She’ll talk to me she was so hard that was so hard Hillary, and I’m like, but it got results.

Ryan Klausner 36:16
Interesting, I had that as well, because I’m originally born in Canada. So we tend to lead with a bit more of a softer British style, more of a European style. And then I did have to learn to adapt to be more on that harder communication style. And so I moved to the United States

Stacy Justino 36:37
in terms of decision or change where you don’t get the stakeholders on board, working in a gaming company. I’m especially part of a public company owned by another company that is in a different industry. So big fish games was owned by churchill downs. For some time now it’s owned by aristocrat technologies, but at the time You know, we were acquired, and the gaming industry, you acquire customers, they cost certain number of dollars to acquire, you don’t recoup that cost immediately. So you put in marketing spend, and you get the return on that spend in six months, a year, 18 months. But, you know, when you’re trying to hit revenue targets, we were focused on daily numbers, weekly numbers in terms of revenue. And so our crediting philosophies from like the game development and production side of things, was focused on hitting their goals, which makes sense. But that didn’t actually work with what people want or what a lot of other games do. So we’d have an outage, and then we’d go back and forth with the internal team, we should just credit everyone, but then that would have an impact on the sales for the next week or two weeks. So it was an internal struggle and there was never sort of a you know, coming more to the support side of things. Even though it’s kind of been shown that people will spend more money, if you give them free stuff in a game, they just won’t spend it all next week. But in a month, that player might have gone from making a 99 cent purchase to now making $5 purchases a week. But that was always a really big struggle, especially as someone I’m a casual game player, so I am the market and I’m like, No, this is me. I’m telling you what, from my personal experience as a gamer of casual games, my behaviour is and that’s the behaviour for a lot of players. So that was a bit frustrating. I’m

Simone Secci 38:36
not gonna say unsuccessful, but like, I’m continuously researching and that I’ve been making into the years that I’ve been in a leadership position to managing this specific part of change, which is like being effective with tagging, which has been a challenge for me throughout my entire career and leadership at different degrees like and I think it’s just a continuous research into perfecting the effectiveness of this and in be able to because we mentioned data before in a lot of data in, in support setting, it’s collected through tagging through categorization. So I think explaining the importance of categorization and tagging to agents at the different level as different levels of challenge because you have your more, I don’t know, it depends on the size of your support organisation, but you have the people that work closely more closely to you, with you and maybe the second or third, a third level, a third tier support them are more familiar with that they do that small part of their day today. And then you have agents which are trying to do their job at the best way possible, try to move fast, and they’re trying to think fast. And, you know, they they sort of have to develop like a like a muscular memory of understanding How to think and it has to go hand in hand with, you know how fast and effective they want to be in their work, but it also has to serve the purpose of categorising collecting and collecting data for you because otherwise your entire data infrastructure falls apart. So, how do you manage the change of like going from an ineffective categorization to an effective one, it’s a very painful process where you have to make 10 steps backwards you know, re analyse the way the methodology that you adopt into categorising and try to find your way through the resistance that there is on the other side, because, you know, there are business priorities at a management level, at the product level that are kind of lost and maybe tier one agents. So, how do you make it so that like, if we don’t do this right, your job it’s gonna be out there and are there because when don’t have enough visibility, If we don’t have enough visibility, we don’t have a chance to influence those decisions that are made at the top. I think that’s the way that I did they managed to do my make my best effort into, you know, creating this understanding and managing this change in a successful way.

Charlotte Ward 41:20
Yeah, really creating a solid data set. Not for this podcast. So when a but I need to get you back to talk about your 10 year journey with tagging. Because I think that is something we can all relate to. And I think what just really briefly, one thing that’s really interesting about that, a that I’m kind of just starting on that journey, my current organisation now so I definitely need to get hold of you quite soon. But tagging seems such a small thing. Like as soon as you start that conversation of, we need to tidy up our tags. It sounds like you’re just gonna poke around in there for a little while, like you’re weeding in a garden or something right. But then Usually you have to, it’s a lot of work, but it’s quite cyclical. So you have to go through some change to give you data to enable you to create more change. So let’s get let’s get you back to talk about at some point. I think you did mention to me as well at one point that you had the ultimate dashboard. So I think we need to get a fireside with him on a quiet soon because it sounds like you’ve got stuff all sorted. Okay, let’s move on. So although we all found it difficult to get going with our biggest difficulties and failures with change, we’ve kind of we’ve kind of made it. But now just just before we come to our one piece of advice, which is what I always like to wrap up with, have you got any stories of big successes with managing change?

Greg Skirving 42:50
Yeah, I’ve got I’ve got one I think I’ve always tried to do a good job of communicating three times like, like Lauren said, and communicate with facts and and do that. But inevitably, you’ll run into people that are resistant to change just because it’s changed. Sometimes it’s good change, but they’re just resistant because it’s change. And there again, I’m going to talk about this great book that I found out about 20 years ago called Who Moved My Cheese. And if you haven’t read it, it’s a must. It’s a really quick read. It’s about mice and cheese. And there’s four different types carrying on the theory of a four. And this one gentleman that I had to work for me just, you know, he was the holdout just wouldn’t, wasn’t, you know, everybody else was on board. And I tried everything. And I went out at lunch, went to the bookstore, bought a copy of the book, and I said, you know, you should have a read of this, right? So it’s like 105 type of thing. And that Quarter two, he came back and he put the puck on my desk and he says, Okay, I get it. So if you haven’t read who, Who Moved My Cheese to an absolute must, provides a scope and perspective for different people. And and I use it when people struggle.

Charlotte Ward 44:18
What other big successes if we got managing change,

Stacy Justino 44:21
I was able to with others, various stakeholders move from one support ticketing system to another. And from the day we decided the day we switched 100% over this would be like for different products or areas we were moving over for probably 20 different games. We did it in six months. And we did it successfully and there was very little drop in productivity because we had done all the pre work to make sure that we addressed all the flows and workflows and processes that we’re going to change to the impact to our agents was pretty minimal and we had multiple trading skills. workshop. And I can’t believe we did it. But we did. And I think that’s a testament to having those processes for managing change.

Ryan Klausner 45:09
I think just add on to what you were saying, Stacy, a lot of my success with managing change on a large scale, whether that was with 100 agents on a team, where we were working with very complicated business units, and the length of each customer interaction was taking far longer than it should not due to any incompetence on the agent’s part, no fault of the customer who was calling it ultimately, or reaching out, it had to do with the fact that these were very complicated business units that were involving financials. And to that extent, we knew that if we could cut 30 seconds from all of these calls, by improving the workflows, the agents were using, we’d actually save a million dollars a year. So I was proposing this and then they’ve said great, you could rewrite it. didn’t think I was going to be getting that but that was a great opportunity to embrace that change. But what I found this really helpful and putting these changes out is doing the old, you know, who, what, where, when, why and how to the entire team, here’s what we’re doing, you know, this is why we’re doing it, this is the impact to all of you. This is what we’ll be doing to mitigate that impact as much as possible. And this is how we’ll be keeping you updated as we move through this process every step of the way. And then working with smaller cohorts to help manage that change and do the training. And generally, we had shorter, briefer sessions with those who are eager to lead the change to be our champions. And then we had some longer breakout sessions with some of those folks that are naturally a bit more resistant or hesitant to change.

Charlotte Ward 46:41
Lauren, what about you? Have you got any, any personal stories of success with change?

Lauren Fearn 46:47
Yeah, so one of the biggest changes that we implemented at Zapier and within the support team, this was a change that kind of came about when I first joined the team. So it’s a real collaboration between the whole group of managers and the work in sport was. And Zapier has always been a very, very flexible workplace. So we’re pretty remote, and we have completely flexible hours as well. And that’s can be very difficult within a support team because you need to have enough coverage you need to know when people are working to a certain extent to make sure that you can make sure your customers are getting good response time. And so it was a challenge, it was becoming difficult, we would see folks would all go for lunch at the same time, or they would take extended lunch breaks at the same time and out or they would start late and it was just very difficult to understand when everyone was around. And we toyed with the idea of like implementing a tool that’s kind of called who’s in the queue and it would help people understand who was around. But ultimately what we settled on was to come up with a flexible schedule. So what that kind of means is instead of everyone just work whenever they want, no matter what region you’re in, you’re in your region but you work your day between 7am and 7pm. So some people will work nine to five some 18247234 some people will start much later in the day some here, and still gives a great amount of flexibility, but it does allow people to, you know, know when everyone else is around. And that was really hard because it wasn’t a change that was happening across the business. So it was just our team that we were implementing this change for and, and to go from being a company who’s incredibly flexible to one that still offering flexibility, but in a slightly different way. It was it was a tough, it was a tough change to roll out. But the major thing really was that we just really communicated and listen to what everybody had to say. And and it was a success. And now it’s a good thing really because people are able to help each other within their regions. They know who is working at certain times. And it wasn’t that different anyway because people tend to work the same schedule. So it was just a matter of that structure being implemented, rather than than making any He changes to what they were doing anyway.

Charlotte Ward 49:02
Yeah, that’s that’s often the way isn’t it that once you get on the other side of change, it’s actually either not as big a change as everyone was fearing. Or genuine, you know, or genuinely kind of equal setting to settle into it much quicker than they, they think even if it was a massive change, right. So, I mean, in your case, it wasn’t an enormous change necessarily, but, but that is a piece of the change. Yeah. Is that front loaded fear somehow?

Lauren Fearn 49:35
Yeah. And, and I mean, looking, looking back, and I think we sometimes I think there’s a tendency to over correct as well for change, like, oh, everybody’s going to be really upset about this, we have to make sure we do x y Zed, and sometimes that’s not necessary. So we’ve learned a lot in that regard as well to make sure that we are and not not overcorrecting too much for for the potential he will be upset.

Unknown Speaker 50:01
Yeah, that’s a fair point.

Charlotte Ward 50:04
And some good advice which, which I’m not going to allow you to bring back in a minute when I asked for your one piece of advice. Let’s get to the final point of this discussion, which I always like to round out a panel with asking what everyone’s one piece of advice is in this particular area. So, Stacy, maybe we can come to you first, what’s your one piece of like, solid gold advice when it comes to managing change?

Stacy Justino 50:28
It’s actually the advice I would give, generally speaking, but it definitely applies to managing change and lead with transparency and empathy. Oftentimes, support reps can feel in the dark. And so being as transparent as you can be greatly helped them especially when you’re introducing change. And as for empathy, we can forget what we’re asking our rep to do every day, especially when we’re trying to change something for the better and they can have some unintended consequences. So leading with empathy not just for customers, but empathy. For stakeholders and especially for your agents, I think is super helpful and would be the advice that we give.

Hilary Dudek 51:07
So by one piece of advice for managing change and support would be communicate frequently and regularly. And, and focus on listening and supporting the individuals, all the individuals on your team, but then allow those natural leaders that do embrace change to sort of take believed and drive positivity towards that change. Let them sort of help you heard everyone into a better morale and a better outlook regarding the change.

Greg Skirving 51:36
Don’t mind one piece of advice is wherever possible, involve the people that are impacted by the change in the actual change. So moving to a new system, there’s a project for that, make sure you have input from the people that actually use it, make sure they’re involved. it straight Typically adjust handles the change it, but it but it also shows faith in your people and the value that they bring in that their opinions are valued. And you get one or two people on the on the project, you know, they’re going to talk about it with their peers. And it’s like everyone’s involved. So we’ve talked a lot about communication. Truly the uncertainty that’s, that’s, that’s the biggest issue, which is why we want to communicate, but having people involved who are impacted by the change wherever possible is,

Unknown Speaker 52:33
is a critical step.

Simone Secci 52:35
And while I think my one piece of advice, it’s very synthetic, and I think it applies to

some of the very difficult relationships that sometimes you are with different environments, maybe with sales in particular, I would say sometimes, and it’s a very, I would say, for me, it’s kind of like a heart law of support, which is don’t promise anything that you can deliver I think that also applies to, you know, managing a group of people for change and, and direct communication be like, straight up and honest with the team that you lead and you know, always manage that communication thoroughly understanding where, what their point of view is, what the context of the day this event information is and try to give them all the tools that they need in order to understand a change and and don’t try to sugarcoat the deal as as I know that it’s easier said than done in certain situations to you know, maybe make a change, be like he was saying that became more appealing than it really is right? But then there are consequences later on the yo yo with

Ryan Klausner 53:59
your phone. given such great advice, I’m left with no original ideas. But I think the transparency and empathy certainly is really key here. But going just a little bit further into transparency and what I was touching on earlier, the who, what, where, when, why, and how, I think as much as we can in terms of communicating that to our team, the who is really who is being impacted by this change. And then obviously, what are we changing? And let’s really talk about why that initiative is happening, whether it’s a choice, our elective choice, or something that’s being imposed upon us, sort of the where, where is this, you know, happening and how is this impacting and then the why really getting into more of the core understanding is what’s motivating This is are we changing software because our current licencing is expiring and the cost doesn’t make sense and the features aren’t aligned with what we need. And this is also going to improve our frustration. Remember how the old one that we like but it keeps crashing all the time and we have to restart our computers constantly. We’ll improve on that stuff. And then the how, how are we going to actually implement this and then talk about it with some open dialogue to address the team’s concerns.

Charlotte Ward 55:11
Me, the one piece of advice that I would give is to is to really invest in the professional development of the people that are going to be communicating this change. So that is, might not be the same for every organisation, especially smaller organisations, you may be the person who’s going to be communicating the change, but if you’re in a bigger organisation where maybe you have senior ICS, or you have team leads or other managers, and the thing that I have found very successful is teaching those people the skills needed to manage change. So how to deal with ambiguity, how to be how to think strategically, how to be transparent how to disagree, and commit is a huge one as well. And that’s a super important one that I think everybody should know. So take the time to help people hone those skills throughout the entire year. whole time, and that they’re at work so that when these things come about, they feel equipped to deal with it in the same way that us as leaders do as well. I think that’s a super piece of advice, Lauren, I really do. Because I think the thing that you said there about investing in it through the year is is a really important part because I’ve been in so many situations where the first red flag I see is that change management training is being rolled out across the company.

Unknown Speaker 56:35
I might be a bit too late.

Charlotte Ward 56:38
Yeah. All that means is that six months from now, I’m going to have a bunch of new people with with all of the credentials for change management, managing some really big stuff. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, it’s a constant. And just sort of and it’s not even I think even after packages like these are changed management skills. It’s just like, these are things you should learn. And and then when the change comes about, it doesn’t feel shocking, to have to disagree and commit, be okay with the ambiguity and then go and talk about it. And and then one thing that I have only recently started to do but find this has been really successful. So when I’m speaking to the team needs about big change, I always put together like a cheat sheet of FAQ, like this is what I think the team will ask you. And here’s what you can say about those things. And that just sets them up to go into their team meetings and be ready for those questions. And just in case they didn’t come up.

Unknown Speaker 57:34
Yeah, that’s great. And just what

Unknown Speaker 57:37
you said about

Charlotte Ward 57:38
you know, that a lot of those skills are transferable from everyday leadership, you can all of the things you talked about around being okay with ambiguity and everything else. That’s just being a good leader anyway, isn’t it and that applies to any day of the week, any any time of the year. big change your small change because we’re managing change every day, actually.

Unknown Speaker 57:57

Unknown Speaker 57:59
Awesome. Thanks. So much.

Charlotte Ward 58:04
That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/103 for the show notes and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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