Success Strategies for Managing Turbo-Charged Change
By Esther Weinberg, Leadership Expert and Founder, MindLight Group

Consider this: technology is transforming every part of the business; pending mega-mergers will dramatically impact the marketplace; the changing regulatory landscape has far-reaching implications on employers and employees; and global expansion is completely re-engineering established U.S.-based corporate culture and thinking. Change is no longer an event; it’s a tidal wave of daily occurrences. Clearly, the velocity of the business climate is in a single gear — turbo! — and there is no letting up or looking back. 

At The Cable Show, the audience literally gasped when Tom Rutledge, CEO of Charter Communications, was asked if the Comcast/Time Warner potential merger was a “good deal,” and he said “yes.” The gasp signified divisiveness in the industry as to what changes are coming, what changes should be embraced and the future of the business.  There is clearly a difference of opinion.

Unless folks in organizations begin to shift their thinking and actions, we may discover that cannibalism of our market has a completely different meaning.  Cable may be graduating out of being the destination if Hulu, Netflix and Amazon continue their fast-paced growth. As a cable executive eloquently said, “executives are forgetting that cable eventually beat out traditional broadcast, and fast-paced Internet businesses might have the power to beat out cable.”

Changing established brands is like turning around a battleship, and this industry has to be realigned, reimagined and re-engineered. As HR leaders, you are uniquely poised to lead the wakeup call by recruiting, hiring and training the people who will propel the industry and organizations forward.  Taking these four actions will help you succeed in this new environment:

  • Create your very own internal HR agency

Position your division as an HR agency serving a multitude of clients, who happen work for the same organization.  You will be in the unique position of training yourself to be impartial.  An impartial ear in a room full of executives attached to their own agenda, mindset and skills is a powerful position to be in.  You can hear what is really on people’s minds, anything not being said, fears that are holding people back and opportunities that need to be capitalized. 

  • Lead with business first, HR expertise second

You must know the media business inside and out, which gives you profound credibility with your clients and a thoughtful “seat at the table.”

  • Employ transformational talent

No longer does “plug and play” expertise work.  Matt Schwartz, CEO of MJS Executive Search, calls this “transformational talent.” Look innovatively at your talent.  Can you hire from different industries? The Veterans’ initiative CTHRA launched this year is a terrific example. Hiring Veterans may be one of the most important and smartest moves the industry can do.  What other sectors or segments of the population are terrific hires?  Maybe someone who was the head of marketing at a vending machine company would be terrific in programming.

  • Become a consummate communicator

Every HR leader must become an exceptional communicator. No longer do you have the luxury of leveraging your public relations folks for messaging to your clients.  You require those communication skills, whether you are readying your organizations for consistent but mild changes or extreme transformations. You are the one holding the vision for the shifting culture in your hands.  It’s most essential for you to share the “why” of any shifts in strategy and tactics, and to build the capacity of your leadership to do the same.  Time to move from certifying your people in assessments to communication basics.  

While extreme velocity has become the new norm, HR leaders can be at the forefront of creating an organization of “readiness,” a soft landing area where you can withstand the bumps, bruises and shifts of continued turbulence with relative ease and fiercely prepare your people to think uniquely to be far more competitive than they have ever been. 

Esther Weinberg is a leadership expert and a media industry veteran with a 20-year track record.  She creates breakthrough strategies for such companies as ESPN, Microsoft, Scripps Networks, NBCUniversal, Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Motorola, Warner Bros, Disney ABC Television Group and MTV Networks, among others.  She is a contributing source for the leadership book “Breaking Through” by acclaimed author Barbara Stanny, and her latest book, “Leadership Hollywood Style” is due out later this year.  Esther is a member of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association (CTHRA), Women In Cable Telecommunications (WICT), a board member of NAMIC Southern California and a contributing columnist to reaching over 50,000 unique visitors.

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