Last week I attended a panel discussion featuring Sean Spicer, the incoming press secretary for President-Elect Donald Trump. I anticipated some protesters and was not surprised when I saw 3-4 people in front of the auditorium passing out anti-Trump material. Neither was I surprised when two minutes into the program, a man in the audience started shouting about the evils of the new administration. He was asked to hold his “questions” until later in the program. He didn’t, and was swiftly removed. It seems that opportunities for improved communication abound on all sides.
I was reminded of corporate transformations I was involved with early in my career. There were well-meaning leaders who were challenged in communicating their change message. I recall one leader, particularly frustrated with the feedback he received, saying, “Gosh, I told them once, didn’t they get it?”
Employees need to hear a message seven to 10 times before they fully understand the change and its impact. The messaging must be received in a variety of ways, from a variety of sources. When employees don’t comprehend the message, what do you do? Do you dismiss them (and their concerns), or do you listen with intent and then ensure their concerns are addressed?
Here are a few communication tips to consider when driving your next transformation:
1. Be sure the purpose of the change is clear – and that it speaks to how behaviors will need to change.
2. Galvanize your leadership team to the purpose and the intent, and ensure they are ready to speak with their organizations.
3. Plan to present yourself at least three different ways to energize your entire organization about the change.
4. Feedback is essential – and using it is even more important. Be sure you have a mechanism in place to receive and process feedback.
When you do these things, you will have a better chance of engaging more employees faster, and thus will likely drive greater value. You will also minimize the probability that anyone in the “audience” will shout you down.
Dedicated to your profitable transformation,