Two Common Mistakes Leaders Make When Communicating Change

You’d think we’d have figured it out by now. Given all of the change initiatives in all of the companies throughout all of the years, you’d think we’d have figured out how to effectively communicate organizational change.
But no. Leaders repeatedly make the same mistakes when communicating change. As a result, they not only fail to engage their people but often disengage them. Here are two of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.
1) Communicating at people, not with people
Effective communication involves more than simply “pushing” information at people to make sure they’re “informed.” If you’re doing that then your people aren’t likely to care about, remember, or act on the information you’re pushing. One-way communication doesn’t get it done.
Better to engage them by creating conversations that encourage their feedback and input. Ask people what they like about the change initiative, what concerns them, and what questions they have. Even better, when you take action based on their comments, circle back and give them credit.
2) Not asking, “Why will this fail?”
Leader communicates new change initiative. People nod their heads up-and-down. Leader thinks everyone understands and will support it. People go away and grumble about why it will fail.
Because you’re so close to the change initiative, you might be blind to the things that could cause it to fail. Fortunately, your people aren’t. Ask for their help. They know the culture, they know the history, ask them why the change initiative will fail. Then go a step farther and ask how you can prevent the causes of failure or mitigate them if they start to appear. Thank people for their courage and their ideas. It reinforces that you value their input, even if it constructively challenges your thinking. Again, if you take action, then circle back and give them credit.
Communicating change? Then change how you communicate.
Take a moment and reflect. What do you like about this blog? What concerns do you have? If you adopt this approach, why will it fail? How can you prevent that?
Make it happen.
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