Change! Communication is key

Change! Hmm, not something we, as a human race, embrace. I know there will be some who openly state that they encompass it in what they do, my hand is up for that concept… well, as long as it is something I ‘wish’ to change. But how much do you embrace it when it is something unappealing?

Worse still, what happens if this change is forced upon you or if informing others that change will take place knowing the resistance you are likely to receive.

Change isn’t simple like changing a tyre on a car. With this, all you are doing is replacing ‘Old’ with exactly the same but a newer variety. Change affects our mental state of wellbeing, beliefs or values so we have to be careful in our approach.

But do we actually need to change? The simple answer to that is YES! Look at Kodak, Encyclopaedia Britannica or Woolworths and you see what happens to those who don’t embrace change. It is inevitable and those who are at the forefront to change are the ones who lead in business.

Now look at the reason for change. Will it truly improve the effectiveness of the business? If unsure, this ‘clarity’ needs to be established first, and clarity is the key.

I know some who think information is power and best kept close to the chest, then wonder why morale is down, people aren’t being open, conversations are secretive etc. This then comes back to how clear communication is paramount to the success of change needed. The element of the unknown causes anxiety, distrust and barriers the delay of shift.

So how is change communicated? See the following just for a starter…

The Grapevine; Notice Boards; Appraisals; Email/Intranet; Face to face meeting; Briefings; Rallies; Presentations; PR Agency/Dept; Conference calls; Annual report; Internal memo; Letter; Telelphone and many more. Think of these and other means by which the message can and should be relayed. NEVER rely on just one format.

I know someone who sends out all important information via FB Messenger, and no matter how many times I advise him that he should also consider text and email, he still uses just the one media form and wonders why some people don’t get to know about his updates!

Make your message sufficient in content, clear and not dependant on the grapevine. If it affects specific people, directly address them and before they find out from someone else.

Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology is known for his publications on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages. This said, 55% is through gesticulation, 38% tonality but only 7% in the words used. Think on this when communicating only through writing.

People read things in the frame of mind that they are in and not necessarily that of the writer so care is needed when using only words as the simple sentence “Standards need to be raised and more focus is required” could be interpreted by a reader as “Are you saying I’m ineffective?”, “Is the company under threat?” or “Are you threatening me?”

To ensure we feel valued and connected, base wording around being:

  • Clear and directional
  • Focused with steps
  • Reassuring to reduce worry/anxiety
  • Motivational

And tie the relevant informer to the relevant party! Well, that includes everyone doesn’t it? Not necessarily, think strategically as to who can relay the message better, for example:

  • Staff to Suppliers
  • Staff to Customers
  • Team Leader/Supervisor to Team
  • Director to Manager
  • Board to Stakeholder…

Some can be more relevant to pass the message on than others. Who would be best to relay the information in your organisation?

John P. Kotter developed 8 steps for successful change, these being

  1. Increase urgency – this helps motivate and move people
  2. Build the guiding team – the people who see things are driven through
  3. Get the vision right – Back to clear communication and strategy
  4. Communicate for buy-in – Make it clear and people start to but into the idea
  5. Empower action – Support rather than micromanage
  6. Create short-term wins – Keeping the momentum going
  7. Don’t let up – Change ideas, adapt but keep focused on the end goal.
  8. Make change stick – Avoid the pull of ‘tradition’. Ensure new and winning behaviour continues.

Change encompasses so much from communication, concept, behaviours, values, planning, strategy, the emotion journey of those affected, resilience and engagement just to mention.

If it was easy, we would have done it ages ago but change isn’t as simple as the tyre, it is so much more complex and clear communication is essential in the development.

If you are in the process of considering change, call Neil on  07761 187238 or email neil@coachingtosuccess.co.uk who, with tools and techniques, can assure you of a smoother and probably quicker transition so all benefit.