How do you start out on the right foot so that everyone will get on board the change train quickly? No matter the kind of change or the extent, it is crucial that managers communicate with employees early, often and well.
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 not met, customers are upset and your stakeholders or shareholders start pounding on your door for better results.
The challenge for managers is to lessen, as much as possible, the potential speed bumps of change. Here are the first three steps for communicating change so that there will be less resistance and more commitment.
1. Analyze your own feelings about the change.
How we manage change can be dramatically affected by how we personally feel about the change. It is important to make the time and take the time to first answer these questions for yourself.
- How is this change going to affect me now? Later?
- Do I agree with the change or do I have reservations?
- After the change, what am I gaining? What am I losing?
- Finally, whom can I talk to abut my reaction(s) if I feel the need? At work? Away from work?
2. 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?
- How much control do I have over how the change is made? What’s negotiable? What’s not?
- Is their information I either don’t know or can’t share with my staff? How will I handle this?
3. 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?
- How much lead time is necessary between the announcement and the actual change?
- Is there enough time for adequate planning but not too long to allow anxiety and resistance to build?
- 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?
Management Success Tip:
When you’re on an airplane and it encounters turbulence, you want to know what’s happening. Not knowing makes you nervous. Employees also want to know what’s going on. If they don’t understand, then anxiety mounts, trust declines and rumors fly. That usually leads to change resistance rather than change commitment. Part 2 will give you the next three communication steps.
Do YOU know how to lead right – motivate right – hire right – get the right results?