Effective Communication: Getting Everyone On Board The Change Train

Sections of this topic

    “I didn’t communicate clearly and often enough the changes that had to be made and why they had to be made.”

    This manager was talking about the importance of providing a clear road map to his staff about the rationale, direction, and steps of the change. What people want from their leaders are answers to these 5 critical questions:

    • Where are we going?
    • Why is this important?
    • How are we going to get there?
    • What are my role and responsibilities?
    • What will success look like?

    Are you giving your staff a clear roadmap? Are you communicating regularly about what’s going on? My sense is that there may be a lot of “talk” but not enough quality and effective communication. Here are three tips to make sure your people get on board the change train.

    1. Obtain the many facts surrounding the change.
    This is not the time to “wing it”. You must be very clear about the big picture and the small details. What’s changing and what isn’t? What’s going to change right now and what later? What’s the time frame? What other important details do I need to reassure my staff?
    2. Decide when and how to communicate the news.
    The timing of the communication is very important. Consider when you are at your best as a communicator and when your employees are most apt to be receptive. What is the best time to talk with your staff? Will key people be there? What is the most effective way to communicate the news? Is it n a group meeting or one-on-one or in a memo or email or some other way?
    3. Anticipate and address their concerns.
    When a manager announces a change, a staff person’s first concern is “How is it going to affect me?” Recognize that while the change is beneficial and needed, there may be legitimate problems and downsides to the change. What questions might be asked about the change? How might you answer these questions and their concerns? What can you do to reassure and encourage your staff about the change?

    Management Success Tip:

    When the change message is not well-defined and well-presented, people tend to respond by sitting on the fence, dragging their feet, or even worse sabotaging the change effort. Suddenly milestones are not met, customers are upset and your boss is pounding on your door for better results. Avoid these problems by communicating with your staff early, often, and well.

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?