[CFO Weekly] Episode 9: Embrace Change, Don't Fear It With Jill Barnard

July 21, 2020 Lydia Adams

A famous Greek philosopher once said, “The only constant is change.” Most of us aren’t huge fans of change -- but as a business leader, you’ve got the unique responsibility to help your organization navigate change, and never has that been more true than during the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

It seems like every aspect of life is changing every second right now. So how do you embrace change? How do you set your company culture up in such a way where change isn’t feared, but viewed as an opportunity for growth and development? 

On this episode of the CFO Weekly podcast, we talked with Jill Barnard, CFO at Televerde about managing for change, how her company went fully remote within 24 hours, and why so many companies stick their heads in the sand and wait for the challenges to pass by. 

Video Is Your Friend

As a global company with over 500 employees spread all over the world, Televerde was already partially set up for success in the area of video conferencing, but the push to a global WFH situation was the catalyst for real change. 

Beyond deploying fully supported home office setups for their workforce within 24 hours of going WFH, Televerde made one small change to their protocol: they asked their employees to enable video on all of their conference calls. 

While initially met with some groans (“you mean I have to get up and get ready EVERY day?”) It wasn't long before the benefits of video started showing themselves. 

Humans are built for connection, and phone calls only do so much for that need for connection. So getting to see people’s faces and connect with them in that real and tangible way turned out to be a very positive thing for employees. 

"Mental health is really being recognized as a challenge in this pandemic situation, and we’re just used to this human connection. We may gripe about it, but once it’s gone you realize just how much of the human connection you’re missing,” Barnard said. 

Even little things like getting to see someone’s home office, or their dog wandering around in the back of the call, made it feel just a little less isolated, and a little more connected. 

Ignore Fear & Learn to Pivot

We asked Jill why some companies simply bury their heads in the sand and wait for challenges to pass, while others embrace the change. 

Her response? Fear & the inability to pivot. 

At Televerde, nearly 50% of their workforce is incarcerated or formerly incarcerated, so they’ve got to be able to pivot, and pivot quickly. 

“When 50% of your workforce isn’t fully 100% in your control, as is the case with our incarcerated workers, you have to be able to pivot, and pivot quickly,” Barnard said.

But some companies just don’t have the ability to pivot quickly. It’s not in their DNA. And unfortunately, it either exists in your organization or it doesn’t. You can’t “kind of” pivot.

If you can’t pivot, Jill says, you’re going to be left behind. Because your competitor is doing everything they can to adapt. They’re staying up all night applying for PPP loans, or focusing on employee safety, or making sure there’s zero gaps in customer service. 

Overcommunicate Everything & Watch Fears Disappear

It’s been said before that fear is simply False Evidence Appearing Real. While there are certainly are real things in the world to be fearful of, most fear is simply driven by a lack of communication. 

If you don’t give employees information, they’re going to make up their own. It’s the way humans work. We’ll fill the white space with whatever is taking up real estate in our imaginations. 

So overcommunicate, share what’s going on, and make sure that what’s being said is what’s actually happening. 

Change is scary for a lot of people. But your organization doesn't have to treat it as something to fear. You can acknowledge people’s hesitations, while at the same time using change as an opportunity to grow and develop. 

 

This post is based on a CFO Weekly podcast with Jill Barnard. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to our show on Apple.

If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, you can go to Spotify or your favorite podcast player!

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