Navigating through change: A Q&A with Brian Guillerault

This article was originally published in the August 2020 issue of Generation Next Edition

NTEA Generation Next's Brian Guillerault (LinkedIn) provides practical tips on navigating change to come out stronger on the other side. 

From Brian: First and foremost, I hope everyone reading this is staying healthy. We’re all going through the struggle of this pandemic together, and it’s so important to discuss ways to help each other.

The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.” I could not think of a more relevant quote given the current state of the world. January seems like a lifetime ago; we started 2020 on a high note, then the coronavirus hit, and everything changed. It changed the way we communicate, it changed the way we do business, and it changed the way we live.

How has the pandemic affected how you work?

I think the pandemic has changed the way that everyone works across the board. Although many of us moved to remote work, others continue to go to the office every day. Personally, I worked remotely for the first few months of the pandemic, then I started going back into the office a few days per week in July.

I have experienced both sides, and this has served to reinforce the importance of clear communication. Whether you’re on a conference or video call, or in a socially distant in-person meeting, you need to communicate in a clear and concise manner. When in doubt, be as specific as possible with your explanations. If you do not understand something or need more clarification, ask questions until things are clear. It’s much better to take an extra five minutes in a meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page, versus having a follow-up meeting to rehash topics that were already discussed.

What's your best advice on how to best respond to change? How do you adapt?

I think the best defense is a good offense. You should always look to be creative and innovate; this goes for all functions – not just sales and marketing. Right now, the status quo is dangerous, and it can mean disaster for your business.

Moments like these require constant innovation; take a hard look at all aspects of your business and see if there are safer and more efficient ways to operate. Sample questions to ask yourself:

  • Are our safety policies comprehensive enough?
  • Is the messaging on our website clear enough?

Finally, I also believe that we need to have humility to fully deal with and accept change. If we cannot see that there may be a better way to do things, then it’s very hard to change or deal with changes as they arise.

What are some positive takeaways or opportunities coming from the pandemic?

After this is over, I think we will be tougher and more resilient. If we can get through this, it will feel like we can get through anything. The pandemic should naturally force us to take a step back and reflect on what is really important in our lives and in our businesses.

Are there friends, family members, old colleagues, or customers that we have not talked to in a while? This is a great opportunity to reach out and give them a call or shoot them a text, just to say that you hope they’re doing well and that you’re thinking about them. Just because we have to socially distance, it doesn’t mean that we can’t show kindness and help each other out.

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