by: Andreea Mihai, MPC2016
Hayley Fuller (MPC2012) lets us into the world of change management. She explains why change is so difficult for people, and shares how she uses her communication skills as a Change Management Consultant at the University of Toronto.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term or concept, can you explain some of the responsibilities of a Change Management Consultant?
As a change management consultant, I’m working at the intersection of communications, training, and project management. Generally speaking, it’s my responsibility to make sure that no matter how large or small the change being made is, the individuals experiencing the change are supported through it in a positive way. The number one responsibility in change management is making sure all of your stakeholders are at least aware of a change – there’s no better way to get a negative reaction to something than to take people completely by surprise!
For every project, initiative, or change I’m working on, I’m responsible for creating a communication plan (and often writing / designing / etc.), a training plan, and a consultation plan. Sometimes I’m the person implementing those plans as well (like leading a training session for 200 people!), but often I’m creating the strategies and guiding others through the implementation. It entirely depends on the scope of the change, and how many people on your team you have supporting it!
What are the biggest obstacles to implementing change?
Generally speaking, human beings aren’t a huge fan of change! We like what we’re familiar with. The biggest obstacle when implementing any sort of change is getting people’s attention. People are so busy that they don’t have time to pay attention to the things that are changing until it’s already too late. Finding new and exciting ways to get people’s attention so that their resistance to change doesn’t become an obstacle is definitely the hardest part of my job.
What communication strategies or tactics have you found helpful to implementing change?
In everything I’ve done, face to face consultations have almost always been how I’ve achieved the most positive reactions to the changes I’m implementing. People want to be heard, and they don’t always feel heard through an email exchange or even consultative survey.
Other than that – my communication strategy is always to bombard people until they tell me they’re absolutely sick of hearing about something. That’s how I know I’ve done my job!
How do communicators contribute to smooth change implementation?
Communicators are totally essential to smooth change implementation. Almost all the successful change managers I’ve worked with have come from a communications background. Communicators inherently understand how to successfully drive a message home to people, and they usually have a deep understanding of their audience – that’s key when trying to figure out what a successful training or consultation plan might look like.
How did the MPC prepare you for the work you do now?
I think the pace of work at MPC really prepared me for the work I do now. In my work, I have to very quickly become an expert on whatever project I’m working on – which always involves a ton of research! Most of all, I think the improvements in my writing that came from the MPC program have been invaluable in helping me communicate with audiences of all different types, in every project I work on.
What did you have for breakfast? A chocolate banana smoothie
Favourite brunch spot? Hole in the Wall in the Junction. Totally impossible to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but the food is incredible!
Favourite coffee shop in the city? Propeller Coffee. It’s a great space to work, so I head there whenever I’m working from home!