Communicating Changes

Guest Blog from Wayne Irwin


Whether your company is large or small, communication is critical to its overall well being, particularly when there are changes occurring.  As discreet as you believe you are, employees know that something is going on and they become uneasy – which drives them to look for alternative opportunities or simply shut down and be less productive.

I experienced this first hand recently, and while, the executive team had the best intentions, they didn’t realize the impact they were having for not communicating with the organization.  The leader called a town hall meeting where he laid out a new strategy to take advantage of a huge potential in a growth market.  He also communicated that in order to be successful, a new organization model needed to be rolled out.  He’d been working with his team to restructure the organization and was nearly complete in developing a new structure – within 30 days, everyone would know their new roles and responsibilities.

While he did a great job at energizing the team about the new vision, over time, people became disenchanted due to the lack of communication.  30 days, then 60 days went by with no communication about people’s roles and how they were going to contribute to the success of the new vision.  This led to nearly a full quarter of less productivity and caused additional challenges in achieving not only the quarterly financial objectives, but in turn the full year’s objectives.

What the leader and full management team didn’t understand was that while they were engaged in the new vision – the rest of the organization had lost enthusiasm and many abandoned ship.

It is human nature to want to understand how you fit in an organization and how you’ll contribute to its success.  Even if things aren’t buttoned up and solid, a small update from management will go a long way in settling the nerves of the organization.  While there was an immediate financial impact, the longer term impacts to the success of the organization may be even more substantial.

Here are a few simple things to ensure you consider when you are making changes in your organization:

  1.  Remember human nature – people like to understand how they fit.
  2. Simple communications will go a long way – you don’t need to provide all of the answers… as a matter of fact, dripping information as it becomes available will help people to feel even more included and keep them engaged.
  3. Don’t take anything for granted – while you are engaged in the details of the changes you are planning and implementing – keep the team informed.  It is natural to forget about this communication, but you must remind yourself to break out of the activities and communicate.

Overall, there are simple steps to ensure that your team stays involved and engaged with your vision.  If you take the opportunity to communicate even when the information seems minimal, your team will appreciate your leadership and remain engaged.

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