Work often takes me to businesses and organizations where change initiatives are stuck.
As I sit in meetings trying to understand the thinking behind the change, there’s often one overwhelming reaction that flies through my mind, “If we can’t sum up the change in this meeting, how on earth can the people working here makes sense of it?”
Here are some pointers that can help communicate organizational change effectively.
Have A Pithy Theme
Humanized and tangible works better here, than abstract and grand. So, themes like “everyone’s a customer detective” or “we’re all margin vigilantes!” are better than “preferred supplier of choice” or “one team, one business.” Describing a new role for people to play is often attractive – most of us love the possibility of transformation.
Know Where the Journey Starts and Ends
An audit function, for instance, required to shift from police officer to educator will have a much clearer idea of the change than one that is told, “we need to soften our approach and sell our services a bit more.” A retailer I worked for effectively changed from bland mid-range fashion provider to “editor of choice for the woman executive.” Leaders love to discuss and eulogize about values and this approach helps identify behavior changes which can be measured.
Seek Behavior Changes
Analysis may show that many behavior changes are needed for the improvement program to succeed; however, many changes could confuse people. From my experience, it works best to start off with maximum of three behavior changes that can be easily described and assimilated. Changes like asking more involving questionsof customers, using the information they provide to make a positive change and linking the information to strategy will usually be quite sufficient. You can always move on to changes in micro behaviors later.
There you have it – a quick and effective formula to convey organizational change. You may already have your own preferred approach to this important task, but I hope you find this one useful and share what works for you in the comments below.
One thing is for sure, the need for women leaders in HR to communicate change is only going to increase in the future.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Philippa Davies is a business psychologist in the UK specializing in influencing skills. She’s written 9 books, one of which ‘Irresistibility’ was serialized in The Times. Her clients have included Prime and cabinet ministers and blue chip CEOs. Phillippa blogs at Mrs Motivator and can be contacted on Twitter as @mrsmoti.