Change is becoming the new normal
Change is often perceived as scary, but when managed effectively it can help keep us relevant. change is becoming a modern leadership essential. We need to become accountable for managing the change, and learn how to gain buy-in/participation to drive the transformation. Knowing how to initiate, manage and drive transformation will soon become a requirement in many job descriptions and performance reviews. For tips on crafting a communication strategy click here.
Change is not going away, it is becoming an essential part of how our organisations function. With sufficient buy-in and an effective process change can be managed.
Effective change requires these essential elements:
We need to be aware of the context of the business, and why the need for transformation. This means constantly scanning our environment and taking proactive steps to discover both threats and opportunities. Making our strategy dynamic and keeping communication two-way ensure we have less resistance and surprises.
Timing is crucial when selling transformations. We need to be able to continuously engage stakeholders while minimising disruption. This requires us to be aware of when to make our pitch, while (more importantly) understanding how to sell the transformation. Regardless of how important the change/opportunity/idea it will create resistance unless our audience understands the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) element. We buy in emotionally and if the message is too logical or timed poorly it will have diminished impact.
Understanding of the process
Once we are clear on the “why” of the change and we have the timing right our ability to sell transformation requires showcasing our competencies and process effectively. Attempting to sell something we can’t deliver on is a major mistake. How we sell changes is being critically evaluated throughout the process. A diverse team can help us execute transformation more effectively by giving us perspective and add a variety of skills to the mix.
Tenacity and grit
To overcome obstacles and resistance by stakeholders impacted by the transformation we are selling requires mental toughness, endurance and the passion to sell the idea all the way through to the end. Successful transformation management means facing uncertainty head-on and seeing opportunities in discussions with the fiercest detractors. Winning over detractors takes effort but can often prove extremely valuable.
Change communication focuses less on the intellectual/logical reason for the transformation and more on the emotional side. A logical approach might seem to include sending numerous emails explaining the ‘why’ and detailing its benefits. However, no one email that is going to solve the problem of resistance. We need to design a tactical approach that has a strong emotive appeal to ensure that we connect with stakeholders on an individual level.
- No communication is still communicating something. The first casualty is normally relevant/critical information. Employees fill in the gaps when there is an absence of communication (rumour, speculation or gossip).
- Communicate through words and behaviours. Communication needs to go beyond data. Stakeholders can be reached more powerfully through the behaviours they witness than data alone.
- Conversations drive change. Organisational transformations happens through conversations, many of which are informal. Maximise opportunities for conversations and feedback to happen in both structured and spontaneous ways.
- Communication is the heartbeat of change. Through the chaos of transformation communication should be a regular, predictable and reassuring touch point with stakeholders.
- Trust is the currency of change. Successful transformations require leaders to nurture trust through authentic, honest and transparent communication.
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