Change is the only constant in today’s business environment. The development of a marketing oriented culture takes a long time, and when developed it becomes a measure of the value it receives from its employees, relative to other organisations. Equally, innovation often means change, a potentially uncomfortable position for many employees. Managers have an important role in encouraging ideas and experimentation, fostering sound internal communications to keep their staff in contact with what is happening in the business, and facilitating change.
Changing environments are making the achievement of a market orientation even more difficult. Marketers have to balance the following issues (to name but a few) with the need to satisfy the customer.
- New political scenarios are emerging which may change allegiances of trade blocs.
- Globalisation and deregulation are increasing competition
- Customers are becoming more sophisticated. As supply exceeds demand in many markets, so customer choice increases and the customer gains in power. Customers’ expectations are therefore increasing
- Governments and people are becoming increasingly aware and concerned over the impact of our actions on the environment. They are bringing pressure and legislation to bear on organisations that are forcing them to redefine their products, services and activities
- Demographics are changing. People are living in smaller units, living longer and living in mixed-race societies and cultures. There are new opportunities for organisations but, at the same time, certain activities that are no longer required or socially acceptable
- Technology has changed our lives. The pace of change is exciting for some, bewildering for others. Organisations have to decide what they want to adopt, make the investment and execute their plans, all before the next generation of technology wipes out their investment
- Shareholders’ expectations for steadily increasing returns on their investment, coupled with changes in corporate governance, are leading to increased emphasis on measuring organisations’ performance in the market across a range of criteria, not just financial. Increasingly, marketing assets such as brands are coming under scrutiny and marketers have to measure and justify expenditure on marketing activities
Change and internal marketing
Many people feel threatened by change and the difference it might make to their lives, especially if they are not in control of the changes that are being made. For example, what will happen if they cannot do the job they have in the changed organisation? Will there be redundancies? Will their status change within the organisation? To overcome some of these issues, internal marketing is necessary to make sure that productivity does not drop due to employees’ fears and the feeling that it is not worth putting as much effort in to work as they may be applying for other jobs or discussing the situation with other employees. Internal marketing has been proposed as a philosophy that focuses on a firm’s employees with the aim of rendering them more effective in delivering superior customer service (Lings and Greenley, 2009). Valuing staff and ensuring that they embrace change is a key role of internal marketing and some of the internal marketing actions that can help to avoid barriers to change include:
- Making sure there is open communicationand fostering employee involvement both before and during the change.
- Making sure that the change is communicatednot just through words but also through behaviour. Champions of the change should demonstrate new ‘behaviour’ and lead by example.
- Encouraging the right attitudeto the change by understanding and removing the fear factor.
- Developing a culture that is based on creativity and innovation, and extending the boundaries within which people are empoweredto work gradually, so that they are able to make minor mistakes.
- Using a framework for implementing change can help support the organisation’s efforts as there will be elements that favour change and others that incite barriers to change.
Serious consideration needs to be taken about how many resources you will invest in the change programme. The influencers in the organisation need to be identified so that they can become part of the positive messaging about the change that is taking place. It may be impossible for your staff to do their day-to-day jobs and help implement a change and so a change steering group or a change champion may need to be heralded as a new interim role until the change has been completed. Kotter (1996) suggests an eight-step model that helps frame a change programme. It starts with establishing a sense of urgency, discusses clear vision and open communication and finishes with the anchoring of the new values in to the corporate culture.
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