February 13, 2024

Spotlight On: Ginger McCullough, OCM Practice Director

Ginger McCullough, OCM Practice Director at Oxford, began her career out of a love of people and getting to know them. From her early years working in retail supermarkets to working in Human Resources to overseeing training programs, what drives Ginger is a passion for learning about individuals and what motivates them. To learn more about Ginger and her expertise, keep reading. 

Can you tell me a bit about your background? 
I have a very non-traditional career path because I have often bounced around. My career began in East Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi retail supermarkets. My passion was speech and theater, so when I received a theater scholarship, I moved to attend the University of Texas and continued my work at the grocery store. I started to advance within the company – I had been promoted to store manager – and loved what I was doing, so I decided to focus on my career. I was offered a position in HR, and because I loved the training and creative aspects, I decided to do it. I fell in love with hiring, training, and supporting new employees. My career continued to progress until I reached a director-level role, and the company was implementing SAP ECC. They asked me if I would oversee the change management and training. Although I knew little about it then, I closed my eyes and jumped. I’m so glad I did because I fell in love with it.

Because the role on the project was only a two-year commitment, I then worked with a change management consultant for eight months before turning my focus to building a training and change management department for the company. I started with one intern and ended up with 23 direct reports and 250 indirect reports. Closing my eyes and jumping pushed me into a lane I never thought I’d be in, but I am still appreciative today for that jump. I went from project life to VP of OCM and Training before moving to Columbus, Ohio, as Change Management and Training Director for a Large Manufacturing company and leading their S/4 HANA project. After that, I wanted to do something new and do what I enjoy most: Leading organizations through change and speaking on behalf of the end user. I did some work as a consultant for Oxford on many projects across several industries, and throughout that work, I thought so highly of the people I worked with. I really wanted to be a part of it. 

Can you share a specific success story or project that highlights your expertise in OCM and training? 
When I was starting up the change department at a Texas supermarket chain, there were so many urgent requests that I had to prioritize. I was trying to step back and do what would be best for the company in the long run. Overall, we were missing someone to own the training and change initiatives inside each store. So, we created a Store Trainer role. They were responsible for change management and training initiatives inside their stores. We created 255 new opportunities, which helped retention, engagement, and excitement. I’m very passionate about women in leadership, and this role had 83% women in it. Over the next three years, of the 83% of the women placed, 50% were promoted to management. It really helped people see their potential. By creating that role, we had better engagement with all the initiatives we drove after that.  

How do you stay current with the latest trends and best practices in OCM and training?
I am a nerd and proud of it. Every morning, first thing after my workout, I open LinkedIn and look at recent articles, anything SAP has introduced, or anything free I can read. I get a thrill out of learning, and if it doesn’t cost me or the company anything, I love it even more. My network is very large, and I know a lot of people who are fantastic at what they do. I like reaching out and asking questions. No one can do it alone, and that’s why you have a network. You surround yourself with people who know more than you. I pride myself on making relationships and asking people what they think. I also take opportunities to speak at conferences like Connect Success for SAP and Sapphire.

What strategies do you use to communicate and manage resistance effectively during the OCM process?
I focus on:

  • Transparent communication
  • Engagement and involvement 
  • Actively engaging the end users in your decision-making 
  • Education and training 
  • Identifying change champions – have that go-to person be a champion for what you’re trying to deliver. 
  • Proactivity when you see a concern or risk 
  • Celebrating quick wins with recognition or a reward

In your experience, how do you tailor OCM strategies to meet the unique needs and cultures of different organizations?

  • Understand the culture as it stands.
  • Involve key stakeholders from the beginning. 
  • Customize your communication strategies – the same strategy doesn’t work in every organization. There may be preferred channels, so I would use what’s been shown to be effective. 
  • Make sure I’m aligned with the organization’s values. 
  • Customize training and development to align with the values and culture.
  • Keep an eye on what’s working, and don’t be afraid to change directions if things aren’t working. 

What role does technology play in successful OCM, and how do you leverage it in your approach?
I use the available tools – email, collaboration, and communication platforms like Teams. I use anything that’s already in place that I can. I also love using project management tools. Sometimes, change initiatives can be complex – you have multiple activities and people involved, so the tools can help with plans, execution, monitoring the change, and making sure you’re efficient. I use software like Jira, Microsoft Project, and Learning Management Systems to house systems, deliver policies, and track whether employees are completing training. There is also an opportunity to collaborate better using this software. 

I also love to use surveys and assessment tools like SurveyMonkey to gauge how we are doing and gather feedback.

Vyond is an excellent tool for creating videos for communication and training in a relatable way.

Can you share any lessons you’ve learned from a particularly challenging OCM project?
Any time there is a change, and people are involved, there is usually a challenge. I have learned that relationship-building with stakeholders at all levels of the organization is key. You can’t be successful only focusing on the top or the bottom. I also make sure to stand up for the end user. Most of the time, front-line employees and middle managers don’t have a voice. It’s hard to speak up, especially when what you’re sharing is not what people want to hear. 

I always look at the future state first. Then, I look at the current state and capture gaps and difficulties. Then, I target those areas. Communication is key. Overcommunication is success. Do not assume anything.

How do you foster collaboration and engagement among employees during the change process?

Keep them informed. Depending on the organization and industry, if there are gaps, recognize early the ways that employees are communicated with. You may find out they have a TV in the breakroom on which the company shares information – but it’s been there so long it’s overlooked. I believe in roadshows, sharing laughter, breaking bread, and in-person communication. You can learn so much from someone on their lunch break rather than days in an executive room. Go to the front line and spend time with people there. People love swag, so give them a T-shirt. Ask for their input, suggestions, and solutions. Ask what’s working or not. I love assessments and surveys. Focus on the front line because, most of the time, your change will succeed or fail at that mid-management level. You have so many people leading there that it can fail if they’re not on board. You must have buy-in. 

What inspired you to specialize in Organizational Change Management and Training, and how has this passion influenced your career path?

I’ve always had a passion for helping people in general. I love teaching, coaching, training, and conquering new technology processes. I like coming up with new ways to motivate people. I used gamification long before it had a name when I was teaching cashiers to memorize product codes and throwing a sweet potato around the room. Whoever caught it had to know the number. I love having fun. I enjoy what I do, and I probably won’t do it anymore when it’s not fun. I love giving front-line people a voice. 

Ginger says, “Training has always been essential. It’s the change piece that’s a little foggy. People don’t understand that the change is at the very beginning, and it ensures that the training is correct and ready to go. How often have we tried to train without thinking about the various elements? I want people to realize that change management starts at the beginning.” Her journey with Oxford has just begun, but although we are at the beginning, we already have a brighter future with Ginger here to guide our clients. 

Quality. Commitment.

Whether you want to advance your business or your career, Oxford is here to help. With nearly 40 years’ experience, we know that a great partnership is key to success. Start a conversation today.