LIFE HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT CHANGE. BUTnever quite like this.
“Just think, over the past five monthsor so the changes we’ve seen in oursociety, our economy, in our workplaces,in our families are really mind-boggling,”said David Lat, who is recovering from aterrible bout with COVID- 19.
Lat, the founder of Above the Lawand managing director of legal recruitingfirm Lateral Link in New York, is hostinga series of Cadence Counsel-sponsoredwebinars focused on change managementfor in-house counsel.
Panelists for a discussion on Aug. 11included Accu Weather Inc. general counsel Jennifer Chung, 3Q Digital Inc. chieflawyer Julie Honor and change management consultant Brittanie Chin-Merkerson of Johnson Controls.
“We’re in a new time now and,quite frankly, the policies that you hadbefore probably aren’t going to be sustainable for the business objectives thatwe have now given the external factorsthat have come into play,” Chin-Merkerson said.
“The game is different. The rules aredifferent,” she added.
For general counsel, it has been andwill continue to be a crucial time to guidelegal departments and employees througha shifting landscape of laws, regulationsand corporate social responsibility expectations, which means it’s important forGCs to be true generalists who can adaptand excel on the fly.
When 3Q, a digital marketing agency,
began transitioning its employees to work
remotely during the novel coronavirus
outbreak, Honor partnered with depart-
ments across the company, from human
resources to operations and facilities and
information technology, to figure out
how to make things go
as smoothly as possible.
“If you really want totransition yourself fromthe company’s lawyer toa member of the leadership team, you have tothink about the businessas a whole,” she said.
According to Honor, to effectivelybring about change within a company,GCs need to have a clear vision aboutthe changes they’re seeking to implement or comply with along with fact-based reasons to support those changes.They also should involve all stakeholdersin the process.
Communications and training areimportant and well-known aspectsof change management as well, buttoo often those areas become the soleparts of the plan, according to Chin-Merkerson.
She urged GCs to be more “focused
and intentional” about managing change,
She added, “You have to find that and
speak to that early on to get people on
GCs also should expect employees to
resist change, which doesn’t always mean
that they’re being stubborn.
“I think when you lead with empathy and seek to understand, then youcan really more closely get at the rootcause of what is behind somebodynot getting on board,” Chin-Merkersonsaid.
Of course, some employees are juststubborn. How can a GC tell if that’s thecase? Having a blunt conversation is agood start.
“Sometimes you have to be veryhonest with people and say, ‘Your job ischanging. This company is changing. Iwant you to be a part of that change,’”Chung said.
HOW CAN COUNSEL MANAGE ALL THIS CHANGE?
BY PHILLIP BANTZ