SITE SEARCH:
video overview
ADS

IIr Associates, Inc.
Publisher of The Virginia Engineer

Print-Publishing Services
Web Site Design-Coding-Hosting
Business Consulting

Phone: (804) 779-3527
sales@iirassoc.com
iirassoc.com

THIS MONTH'S GUEST ARTICLE
Across a wide range of business and engineering topics, these articles are presented with the intent of sharing knowledge and provoking thought, possibly even serving as a catalyst for action. Send us your topic suggestions and abstracts. We are always in search of engaging professional content. Contact us at news@vaeng.com for details.

Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating Change
September 2017

By: Henry DeVries

Gulp. Suppose the time has come to communicate a major change for your organization. Maybe it is a downsizing, a restructuring, or a switch to total quality management. The change is so important the future of the company depends on it.

Employees are mustered to the cafeteria where the CEO makes an impassioned speech worthy of a field marshal. Following the call to arms, the communications campaign launches an offensive on several fronts. All locations are bombarded with videos. Special editions of the employee newsletter sound the battle cry. Platoons of senior executives fan out to deliver the message on a more personalized basis to the troops.

But the war is already lost. Why? Because this approach is wrong, wrong, wrong. Not only will it fall flat, it is positively harmful.

Ask employees what information source they prefer. According to a study by the International Association of Business Communications, 9 out of 10 employees said they want to hear it directly from their supervisor. The mistake that dooms most campaigns seeking to win support for new business goals is the failure to let supervisors explain the change to front-line employees.

To achieve optimal results, campaigns to communicate potentially unpopular changes to employees should be viewed as an applied science. Unfortunately, this does not happen at most large companies. Case studies, surveys and research clearly show that the best practices for a major change are to communicate directly to supervisors and to use face-to-face communication, which includes storytelling.

The rate of major change is accelerating rapidly in business today, and many executives will be called upon to make major change communications decisions as part of a senior executive team. Knowing the four biggest mistakes of change communication will increase their chances of success.

Mistake 1—Many well-meaning CEOs attempt to improve change communications by going the direct route.

These CEOs naturally want to talk directly to the front-line employees, usually supported by the advice of senior human resources executives and consultants. Unfortunately, it is a mistake that is wrong for two reasons.

First, it can be viewed as a mere symbolic move, and today’s disillusioned worker has little love for the empty gesture. Second, and more damaging, these campaigns can weaken the relationship between front-line workers and supervisors. Workers want to work for someone who is connected and has a degree of power within the organization. They want to know their supervisor has some pull, and is not viewed as powerless.

Mistake 2—Other well-intentioned senior executives push for equality in the workplace.

They believe supervisors should sit shoulder-to-shoulder with front-line employees to hear the big news.

Again, a mistaken strategy because it is evidence of senior management’s failure to recognize the supervisor’s superior status. This reduces the supervisor’s perceived power and weakens his or her effectiveness as a force of change. What many senior executives fail to realize is that the only communications with the power to change behavior is the kind between a supervisor and a direct report.

Mistake 3—Applying the strategy that more must be better, executives in charge of change campaigns use ink by the barrel.

They think the solution is more employee reports, posters, news bulletins, video scripts, team briefing outlines, brochures and guidebooks. This too is the wrong approach, because the critical communication is the type that happens face-to-face between a supervisor and front-line employees.

Energy and resources should be directed toward producing supervisor briefing cards which will arm them to answer the key questions that are in the minds of their staff.

Mistake 4—Not giving supervisors a persuasive story to tell can be a tactical error.

Storytelling helps persuade on an emotional level. Stories are the building blocks of company culture.

If there is already a true story to tell about how the change will benefit the company, so much the better. If not, at least give supervisors a narrative to tell about how success can be achieved in the future. Every story starts with the name of a character who wants something. Make your main character likable or the victim of undeserved misfortune so the listeners will root for them. To make them likable, describe some of their good qualities or attributes.

Heroes need help on their journey. They need to work with a wise person. This is where your organization comes in. Be the voice of wisdom and experience. The hero does not succeed alone; they succeed because of the help you provided.

Finally, give the listeners the moral of the story. Take a cue from Aesop, the man who gave us fables like The Tortoise and the Hare (the moral: slow and steady wins the race). Don’t count on the listeners to get the message. The storyteller’s final job is to tell them what the story means.

The Bottom Line on Communicating Change

While other forms of communications should not be abolished, the emphasis should be on making supervisors privileged receivers of information. The strategy is to empower the supervisors.

When the future of the firm is on the line, ultimately it’s the CEO’s job to make sure change is communicated the best way possible. After the employees get the skinny from the supervisors, then the CEO can talk to all to reinforce the message.

The wise CEOs will use their supervisors, and properly arm them, to ensure success.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Henry DeVries, CEO of Indie Books International, works with consultants to attract high-paying clients by marketing with a book and speech. As a professional speaker, he teaches sales and business development professionals how to build an inventory of persuasive stories. He is the author of “Marketing with a Book” and “Persuade with a Story!” For more information, visit www.indiebooksintl.com.



Guest Articles
Below are listed the 12 most recent Guest Articles.
To see the entire list of Guest Articles, visit the Guest Article Archive.
To be alerted to new Guest Articles, subscribe to The Virginia Engineer Newsfeed: Atom / RSS

Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating Change
September 2017

Gulp. Suppose the time has come to communicate a major change for your organization. Maybe it is a downsizing, a restructuring, or a switch to total quality management.

By: Henry DeVries

Once is Not Enough
August 2017

As a professional or thought-leader, you are constantly selling your intellectual property (IP). There’s no reason that IP can’t be repackaged for many different media, like speaking, writing, training, consulting, coaching, and so on.

By: Cathy Fyock

AN INTEGRITY SELF-TEST FOR LEADERS
July 2017

Although many people struggle to completely define integrity, most everyone can recognize it.

By: Dave Martin

Closing Calls Like a Pro
June 2017

Telephone customer service may look easy, but until you’re responsible for navigating the world of tough calls, it’s difficult to appreciate the kicking, blocking, and sparring skills some customers have perfected.

By: Kate Zabriskie

6 C’s of A Visionary Organization
May 2017

Vision is the tension between what was, what is, and what will be. It reaffirms an organization’s reason for existence, identifies who it serves, and creates products and services to solve a societal or humanitarian problem.

By: Eliakim Thorpe

Three Questions that Capture Your Customer’s Attention
April 2017

You may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t I get the follow-up meeting with that recent prospect?”

By: Stu Schlackman

Know the Difference between Edutainment and Productive Training
March 2017

The first step is understanding that although good training is often entertaining, it is not entertainment.

By Evan Hackel

Six Signs You Are Not Assertive Enough & Four Ways to Fix It
February 2017

Those who achieve success make things happen and have developed the ability to be assertive. If your secret desire is a promotion or more money, being assertive can be the key to making your dream a reality.

By: Jill Johnson

Transform Walking Dead Employees into Raving Fans…Without Paying More
January 2017

Have you ever had a company outing at a golf course? Ever have one end with an “invitation” from the local authorities to vacate the premises? Would you feel that outing was a total success? Want to find out how you can do just that and have it be a total success?

By: Mike Campion

The Four Cornerstones of a Great Business
December 2016

All of the world’s greatest structures rest on a solid foundation. And the integrity of every foundation depends on its four cornerstones.

By Randall Bell, Ph.D.

The Product Pivot: The Gift That Keeps On Ticking
November 2016

Whether you know it or not, your business is a time-bomb. The seconds are counting down until it explodes into a million pieces, littering the marketplace like a war-zone. And it’s not just you. Every company is on a going-out-of-business curve unless it constantly reinvents itself.

By: Steve Blue

Are You Aligning Your Training Goals with Your Business Goals?
October 2016

Four Keys to Establish Congruency

By Cordell Riley


Guest Article Archive
 
 
The Virginia Engineer MobileOur Mobile site
m.vaeng.com
The Virginia Engineer on facebook
The Virginia Engineer RSS Feed