Change is a challenge in many organizations. One phrase I often hear from clients is, “we are experiencing change fatigue.”
I get it… and yet there is no choice but to change. Blockbuster video decided they did not need to change and where are they today? Or look at Eastman Kodak. And remember the Blackberry it was a decade in advance of the iPhone.
My observations having worked with clients across North America and Western Europe is that it is in how we communicate before, during and after change that can influence the success of change.
There is a psychology, a structure and a rhythm to communication that when understood can help you facilitate change and lead to engagement, performance and productivity. Change is scary and when change comes upon us we can often go into survival mode versus crate and collaborate.
When we are aware of this we can prepare for and lead change. For example, we can use language that is embracing of change. Perhaps something like, “This can be good for the future of our organization.” “Maybe this will make things better.” Or even just being curious, “I wonder what we will learn in this change.” When we change our languaging around change we have different center in our brain that light up. When we embrace change versus resist it we move into the front part of our brain the creative part. This allows us to manage change or even thrive in change. In fact start using these phrases and watch what happens in your organization.
Another thing to do to help your people light up the creative centers is to start each meeting with a moment of mindfulness. My friend Mark, likes to start meetings with the phrase, “Thank you for getting here. Let’s take a few moments now to be here. Let’s take a couple of breaths. Let’s let go of the previous meetings or the tasks that are coming up and let’s be here.” This allows people to be present and to focus on the task at hand. I am willing to bet that you notice your meetings will run smoother and more productively.
Once your organization is in the throes of change it is important to manage the communication about change. If you don’t the grapevine will and negative Ned will be driving the conversation. (Not his real name). One way to do this is to have regularly scheduled meetings. They don’t have to be long. Just a quick update on progress, benefits and Q & A. Keeping your team in the loop keeps them focused also. Nature abhors a vacuum. Don’t let your communication about change create one.
There is a cadence to organizational communication. As leaders it is not “one and done.” People need to hear it over and over again.
Why are we doing this?
What benefit to us, the organization or our customers comes from this?
What do we still need to do?
These are all important. And there is the other side. The listening side. When making change sometime it does not go as planned. There are unintended consequences. How can you “listen” to your team to stay on top of the change and the effects plus and minus of change.
Change is not always easy. And if you open the lines of communication and lead your team it can be easier than many make it.