A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear Tom Perez, Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee speak at a University of Chicago event. I appreciated the opportunity to attend as it provided greater understanding of the challenges facing the party in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.
In summary, Mr. Perez said this about the party’s leadership, “We continue to have good candidates, but our purpose hasn’t been clear, and our messaging has not been consistent.” He spoke of “we are the party that ‘has your back,’” but admitted that this was not meaningful enough. He admitted that they lost their connection with their public. The latter was evident at the end of the meeting when during Q&A he failed to connect with audience members with salient answers that addressed their concerns.
In fairness, Mr. Perez is relatively new on the job. It takes a leader time to sort out priorities and drive improvements in an organization. Yet what I experienced in this meeting is quite relevant to the challenges facing many leaders today who are driving large organizational transformations: Clear purpose and consistent messaging.
In a recent speaking engagement, I asked the audience to share the most important work of a leader of change. They agreed that an active and visible sponsor speaking consistently about the outcomes (purpose) of the change is one of the most important ingredients to driving results.
How do you do this?
1. Define clear purpose in terms of outcomes. Scrap the vision and mission statements. Define the expected results of the transformation, and describe how the organization will be different.
2. Rally your leadership team. Be sure your leadership team is aligned to this purpose. Develop messaging together that you will use to communicate about the change.
Have consistent messages. Use the messages you create consistently, in different forums and in different forms.
3. Seek feedback. Use your communication forums to seek feedback. You’ll likely receive questions about the purpose and impact of the change. Use this feedback as appropriate to affect implementation.
4. Follow up. Be sure your organization knows how you’ve incorporated their feedback, and reiterate your consistent messaging. Steps 3-5 are not one-time events; they must be executed throughout the project.
Dedicated to your profitable transformation,