Too often people feel ignored. Good listening skills are a rare commodity.
In the business world, people in organizations are speaking at each other faster and faster. Communication comes not just from the spoken word, but in emails, text messages, Facebook updates, private messages, tweets, and communication blasts.
It can be maddening. Trying to keep up is exhausting.
The average person at work in 2016 isn’t being listened to. They are being spoken at. Constantly. All day long.
When an organization wants to make a major change, the communication style must be radically altered if the change initiative has any possibility of succeeding.
Communicating a change initiative must include the following 5 steps:
- A grand pronouncement
- An explanation of why
- An explanation of how
- A listening period
- An acknowledgment of having been heard
Without the listening and without an acknowledgement of being heard, people will resist the change. The change initiative will most likely fail.
If people understand the why and how – and if they feel heard – they will be much more willing to accept the change.
Here’s a further description of each of the 5 steps for communicating a successful change initiative.
- A Grand Pronouncement. A declaration. When the Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence everything changed instantly. Any successful change initiative must have a grand pronouncement made by the CEO, owner, or leader.
- An Explanation of Why. The pronouncement must include a statement of why. Why we are going to make this change. It should be short and succinct. It should be memorable. It must be crystal clear.
- An Explanation of How. The pronouncement must include a statement of how. How we are going to accomplish this change. How it will get done. It should include a time-frame. It should be the grand scheme of things. It need not include all the details. It should be a simple road-map showing where we are today to where we’re going.
- A Listening Period. After the first 3 steps are complete. You can expect all hell to break loose. People will go crazy. They will have comments, concerns, criticisms. They’ll ask questions about why and how. They’ll gossip and talk among themselves. Someone should be listening at this point. Someone better be taking notes. Someone should be documenting all the brilliant ideas that will percolate up during this chatter.
- An Acknowledgement of Having Been Heard. After the listening period a statement of what’s been said by the employees and heard by leadership must be communicated. This statement should address the major issues of concern. It doesn’t need to be a complete laundry list. It should be an acknowledgement of the most important course changes that will now be made to accomplish the goal. It should be an updated road-map showing the new route. I will show how we’re going to get from here to there based on the feedback.
If steps 4 and 5 are done correctly, people will feel as if they’ve been heard. They will accept the change. They will be part of the change. They will fight for the change.
If steps 4 and 5 are done incorrectly, chaos will reign and the change initiative will fail.
Steve Weber is the Change Ambassador. He works with organizations to specifically accomplish steps 4 and 5. He becomes leadership’s ears. He collects and collates the feedback leadership needs so they can acknowledge the people who have spoken. He helps people feel heard and listened to. He enables change to occur quickly and with minimal disruption.