Lisa Hufford is the founder and CEO of Simplicity Consulting and author of Navigating the Talent Shift: How to Build On-Demand Teams and Drive Innovation. Simplicity helps organizations address the competitive and dynamic business environment by providing an on-demand workforce. 

Lisa is a disrupter who is adept at change and a trailblazer of the gig economy. Here she shares her advice for managing change. 

Communicate in real-time with all players.

Our business operates like a 3-legged stool, with the three legs being Simplicity, our consultants (the workforce), and the organizations we serve. When one leg changes, the other two are impacted and have to adapt in order to maintain balance in the whole system.

We work hard to consistently communicate across all three legs in real time as change occurs.

That means really clearly helping people understand what’s different or new and how it impacts them. Then we provide resources and tools to help them adapt.

We always start with the “why” of the change. Why it’s happening, how we got here, what it means. Then we communicate a plan for implementing the change.

The plan for navigating change is never just a static, written document. It’s in the words we speak and the support we provide.

Use tools to keep the team connected.

We also rely on tools such as Microsoft Teams to enable accurate, timely communication. Microsoft Teams lets us communicate in real-time as a team, both with our staff and our consultant community, and jump on a quick video meeting or chat to hash out any pressing issues.

Hubspot, our marketing automation tool, lets us quickly and easily push out an email to a segment of our contacts at a moment’s notice. Paycor, our human resources management system, keeps our employees current on HR or payroll updates.

I also host a standing monthly call with our consultant community to keep everyone on the same page with new developments.

I think hearing directly from me and being able to ask questions is important for helping individuals navigate change with confidence.

Create a framework for evaluating and adapting to change.

So many managers and organizations aren’t prepared for working with an on-demand workforce. And yet, 35% of the U.S. workforce is freelancing in 2019. That’s 57 million people, up 4 million from 2014.¹

The trend for on-demand talent is clear, presenting a huge opportunity for businesses to tap into appropriate expertise as their business needs change.

The key is mutual learning. It’s a big reason I wrote the book!

We need to know as much as we can about our clients’ businesses to help source the right talent and onboard them quickly. And, organizations need a framework for evaluating and adapting to unanticipated business changes.

To that end, I created a flexible framework referred to as SPEED: Success, Plan, Execute, Evaluate and Decide.

SUCCESS: take time to determine the most important outcome
PLAN: clarify how to meet your business objectives and fill talent gaps on your team
EXECUTE: the key to successful project execution is setting and meeting expectations
EVALUATE: identifying key project metrics is critical to making sure the work is getting done as agreed upon in the SOW
DECIDE: once goals are achieved, decide if there are new or continuing project needs

This framework outlines the steps for success and helps us anticipate where there might be roadblocks along the way so we can be as preemptive as possible.

Key lessons: Clarify. Communicate. Repeat.

In terms of advice for managing change, I talk a lot about clarity and communication, and for good reason. They are essential to our success.

Besides that, I’d say: try not to panic in the gray areas. Ambiguity can be so uncomfortable, and a great teacher. It’s also helpful to not take things personally, both the good and the bad!

Our success is also due in large part to attracting employees and consultants who are agile, adaptable, who have a good sense of self, and can manage and self-regulate their emotions through ambiguity. That may sound like a tall order, but it’s true. And I think it all goes back to our emphasis on clarity and communication.

¹, Freelancing in America, 2019

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