What we’re up to
How to stay on track when communicating change.
When introducing change – give one good reason why and actively acknowledge people’s most likely concerns. Failing to flag concerns doesn’t mean they will disappear. Instead, they will amplify. This is a particularly common mistake when announcing change in writing. If you find yourself doing this, re-imagine your message as a face-to-face conversation with your intended audience.
You will most likely find yourself taking a more consultative approach.
Here are five further ways to stay on track and avoid creating an elephant in the room:
- Test out ‘gut reaction’. Imagine delivering this news to friends who were going to be affected by it. How would they react?
- Build your empathy muscles. Spend time getting to know the audience in some way. And when you can’t know the audience, imagine what a day in their life in this context would be like? What makes their day fun, difficult or bearable? What are their priorities, drivers, frustrations and concerns? How does their work day, fit with their home life?
- Allow people to input and shape this change. Ensure you communicate early enough in the process to allow people to have some say in exactly how the change is implemented. And – if they are being asked to explain this change to others – ask for their help in shaping the communications’ packs and tools you would like them to use. Where possible, give choices within a defined framework rather than present a ‘done deal’. This focuses attention on the choice and retains an all-important degree of autonomy.
- Deliver your message respectfully – using natural language. Avoid a formal tone and give one good, solid reason why this is happening – one that you believe yourself. Avoid a list of other, weaker reasons. These then dilute your main case and open up arguments against the change. Acknowledge the concerns you believe people may have, being careful not to dismiss them.
- And when you’ve done the above, stand back and check the communications you are preparing? Can you see all likely perspectives? Can you guess at some less likely ones? Who else might know?
It was a privilege to work with the Engage for Success organisation this year, gratifying to see some of our approaches put into practice and that our storytelling workshops are now included in their events programme.
Without effective conversations no organisation can operate. They are how we create shared understanding.
From scientific institutions to advertising agencies, from pharma to finance, from universities to utility companies – over the last year and a half, we have worked with scientists, senior executives, communications specialists, boards and women’s leadership groups from these organisations to develop more effective conversations and results.
In particular, through our workshops and coaching, we have helped them:
- Tell their story in interesting and genuine ways
- Plan for change – motivate and engage their teams
- Build their emotional intelligence and communications skills
- Increase their personal impact, presentation and performance; and
- Step up to leadership roles.
We have seen a particular demand this year from those wanting to engage and present at a whole new level. We have helped individuals and pitch teams draw on valuable strategies and tips modelled from some of the world’s top communicators in business, media, political and leadership roles. This now forms the backbone of one of our Summer 2018 Offer workshops.
Another theme is the continued coaching support for senior executives to develop the communication, people skills and perspective to managing increasing levels of stress and to re-energise themselves and their teams.
If you have similar challenges ahead, do get in touch to see if we can help.