Growth and relevance in the business world require companies to adapt to trends and find new opportunities to meet their members' or customers' needs. The changes required to stay successful might be clear to you as president or CEO, and maybe even your C-suite.
Where leaders often fall short, though, is effectively communicating change throughout the organization. Each member of our team has a role to play and must work in unison toward the end-goal. If they're uninformed or unaware of components of the strategy, it's impossible to get there.
To help leaders avoid these problems, leadership guru and author Gifford Thomas flags four communication errors that hinder change:
- Using one form of communication. Change requires transparency. Announcing an impactful change at an all-staff meeting might be an efficient way to let all employees know the information at the same time, but they will likely have questions. Thomas recommends using emails, memos, newsletters, one-on-one meetings, and more to double down on the message. Consistent and repetitive messaging will help employees feel stable throughout the change.
- Not tailoring the communication. Organizational change doesn't affect every employee the same way. Certain departments might be responsible for implementing the change, while others won't be directly impacted. Be sure to have a strategy to convey appropriate information to each audience. Work with your management team on the communication strategy so they know how to handle direct-report inquiries.
- Not using communication to drive the vision of change. In today's business world, more and more employees join a company because of its mission. A company's vision to meet its mission is clear to its creator; but if it's not conveyed effectively, employees become worried. These five tips – including showing progress, engaging stakeholders, and more – will help you drive change through communication.
- Using grapevine communication as a formal communication channel. We've all played the telephone game where the initial message is completely different once it reaches the end. In an office environment, grapevine communication can quickly lead to misinformation as employees fill in gaps based on assumptions or hearsay. Set yourself up for success by being upfront with information.
The world is ever-changing and businesses must adapt to succeed. Supplementing your initial announcement with these tips from Thomas will ensure employees have details on why the change is occurring, what it means for them and their role, and what to expect going forward.
While communicating change is a challenge on its own, accepting change can be difficult for many in the company. If this sounds like your office, here are some ways to create a culture of change.
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About the Author
B. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and has helped expand the association’s reputation into becoming a premier advocate for the credit union industry.