Managers tend to underestimate the importance of communication during times of change. Reliance on informative messaging, fear-based messaging, or managerial force may result in change resistance or adoption, but early back-sliding.
- Hey, Brenda. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. - Sure, what's up? - You know, I've been complaining forever about our performance management system. And I just came out of a meeting with the chief operating officer and it's changing, so we finally have the green light. Instead of just rewarding people for sales numbers, we actually now will measure how well they do in teams, their behaviors, how collaborative they are. So those great sales people that take bodies on their way to the performance evaluation and get rewarded, are not going to always just be measured on that, but we'll also get people that are very good collaborators and are good team members.
They will also be able to be rewarded for their behavior. So I think it's really the way to go. It's really a way to make it better. Everyone will benefit. I'm really excited to tell them about it. - Oh good! How are you going to tell the team? - Well, that times are changing, customers want to be more involved, so we'll use some of that data. Customers want to be able to connect with everyone on the teams and work in more collaborative, we'll have teams work more together.
It's just the change of times. You know, don't they say change is the only constant? - Yeah, they do, but I have to tell you, from what you're describing, I'm worried that failure is the only constant. - [Short-Haired Woman] What do you mean? - Well I've read that up to 70% of new initiatives in all organizations fail, and I just don't want you and this new system to fall into that group. - But how could that happen? This is so cut-and-dry. - Is it? I mean a personnel change seems pretty straightforward as well.
But do you remember the C-Suite Shuffle that we all survived a couple of years ago? When our CEO stepped down and the only explanation we were given was it's personal reasons. Come on, we all knew something wasn't right. I lost serious trust in our board that day. - I know what you mean. And do you remember all the rumors that were flying and we made up information that wasn't there? And it took for the new CEO forever to win our trust again. - Yeah. We have had our share of communication mess-ups around here and it's not just us.
These communicating and times of change disaster stories exist everywhere. - Give me an example. - Well, okay. A friend of mine works at another company, and she spent an entire year on a change transition committee. They fought through some major operational changes, really good changes, good decisions, but then when they went to roll out those changes, they did it all in one newsletter. Singular. So it's as if they had one of thousands of communications between management and employees committed to this major change announcement.
And then they were surprised when people weren't on board or didn't even know about the changes. - Well, so that's not just lack of communication, it's communication mess-ups. And you're telling me they're everywhere? - Yes, and the lack of communication. Problems arise if you're not getting the right message to the right people at the right time. Timing is huge. When we found out about the changes to our annual meeting dates after we had all booked travel, remember what a mess that was? - But this is not the annual meeting and it's not travel, I mean it's a new performance management system.
To be honest, if they don't like it, they can lump it. - Oh no, no. Force is the last strategy you want to use. Think about a time when you were a kid and your parents wanted you to do something that you didn't want to do. Do you remember something like this? - Yes, and my mother remembers it too. - I bet she does. So think about what a hard pill that was for you to swallow. Even if mom had a good reason for her ask. Now, how much more resistant were you if her only rationale was because I said so? - No, no that was the worst.
- [Brenda] Exactly, it's just not human nature for people to accept or embrace a change when it's been forced on them. - What you're saying makes sense. But it also has me nervous. I mean, do I stand a chance of getting buy-in from these guys? - You do, you do. There are lots of success stories too.
Tatiana and Brenda begin by reviewing success stories and survey data that emphasize why communication in times of change is so crucial. Next, they explain how to strategize communication efforts, craft the change communication message, and answer common questions that people may have when grappling with change. To wrap up, they discuss how to manage difficult questions, emphasize with others, and overcome resistance.
- Why communication in times of change matters
- Strategizing your communication efforts
- Crafting the change communication message
- Five questions people have in times of change
- Managing difficult questions
- Empathizing with others
- Overcoming resistance