I was recently taking to my Dad and I had a funny story I was waiting to share. Sure to get a huge laugh, I thought. I lined up the gag and hit the punch line perfectly. As I waited for the howls of laughter, that failed to arrive, I looked over and Dad wasn’t laughing. He was asleep.
My message failed to land. I revisited the gag at a later stage as my repertoire of jokes is limited and got a lukewarm reception. Nevertheless, I thought about how this aligns to the important messages we are sending out in organisations every day. Are they landing?
Organisational change and implementing a new system of working, such as Operational Excellence, can be challenging and stressful for everyone involved. Therefore, having a clear and effective communication strategy is essential to promote the change process and ensure its success. Over the years we have seen how the outcome of a change initiative can hinge on how well communication is handled. Here are some of our tips to improve your communication strategy for organisational change:
1) Know your burning platform.
Before you communicate anything about the change, make sure you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and why. This will help you craft the message that explains the purpose, benefits, and outcomes of the change. It will also help communicate the risks of not changing, the harm of doing nothing.
2) Make sure the audience is awake.
Create the right environment for communication. Stale communication is not effective. Nobody wants to look over at a sleeping employee, who has missed your message definitively. It’s painful. I know.
3) Tailor the message for the audience.
Different stakeholders may have different concerns, expectations, and preferences regarding the change. Therefore, you need to get clear on your audience and change your message to suit. Some employees may be happy with an email sent widely across the organisation, while others will want face to face time. Some will be happy with a brief overview while others will want to see hard data, facts and figures.
4) Involve and engage your employees:
Respect for people is one of the cornerstones of Lean and Operational Excellence. Take the time to ensure that communication is not a one-way street. You need to create opportunities for feedback with your employees, who are the ones most affected by the change. By involving and engaging them in the change process, you can increase their understanding, commitment, and ownership of the change. You can also address their questions, issues, and concerns promptly and effectively. Change is rarely smooth, and time should be taken to alleviate fears of change at every opportunity.
5) Use stories, examples, and emotions:
Facts and figures are important, but they are not enough to persuade and motivate people to embrace the change. You also need to use stories and emotions to connect with your audience on a deeper level. Stories can help you illustrate the vision, values, and benefits of the change in a relatable and memorable way. Emotions can help you inspire trust, confidence, and enthusiasm in the change. Paint the bright new future and show the benefits it will bring to all involved in the change
6) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It is often stated that change messages are under communicated by a factor of 10 in many transformations. Communication is not a one and done event, but an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring and evaluation. You need to measure the effectiveness of your communication strategy by using various indicators, such as feedback surveys, focus groups, engagement metrics, etc. Good communication is central to any Operational Excellence program and using systems such as Tiered Visual Management meetings to constantly reinforce change messages is a great way to ensure messages are getting to where they need to get to. When you think you have over communicated, communicate again.
WD Excellence are a professional services team specialising in Organisational Improvement, Lean Six Sigma, Operational Excellence, Executive Coaching and Psychotherapy.