How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
How to communicate change and get leaders to drive it
Guest articles > How to communicate change and get leaders to drive it
by: Marcia Xenitelis
The reason most leaders wont drive change communication initiatives is because they are asked to communicate information that is readily available online and when employees ask questions about the changes they feel unable to provide answers – therefore they avoid doing it.
I wanted to provide an example of a change communication initiative I designed where the business was seriously underperforming and how we designed a change communication strategy that was driven by leaders at all levels of the organisation and had the impact of significantly improving business outcomes.
This organisation is retail based, but this approach can be adapted for any industry sector. I initially worked with the executive teams at each level of the business to focus on business issues and develop change communication strategies to impact on those issues and bottom line outcomes. The profit results of each of the company owned stores were not good – they were losing money and managers were not equipped to make decisions about what to do to turn the situation around.
Here are a series of steps that I followed to engage managers and staff to turn the profits of this business around.
The outcomes were an organisation that had made a significant shift towards a retail culture which was reflected in bottom line outcomes. Employees identified retail opportunities and also improvements to the business outcomes. These actions were then implemented nationally. As a side benefit the retention issues reduced significantly and territory managers and store managers were able to show the impact of local decisions on specific retail sites.
The “business awareness” sessions using actual business data and engaging employees to contribute to improving business outcomes were now driven by managers and became a new standard item at team meetings. The change communication strategy to communicate business improvement initiatives also created a community of expertise that continually shared new ideas.
So whilst productivity issues, profitability issues, redundancies etc may all prove a challenge to communicate, the only real challenge is to stop focussing just on the information about what is changing and to move the focus to opportunities to improve the status quo.
As a communicator you are achieving many desired outcomes, you improve the capability of managers to communicate change because you have put in place a structured process. You have improved business outcomes because you have focussed on a topic that truly engages all employees; you have removed communication barriers that exist in organisational hierarchies and you have given frontline employees a voice. This is the action oriented change communication approach that adds value to an organisation. Focus on this and you become a business partner, focus on just communicating information and you become a service provider to the business. Your challenge is always to become the strategic business partner.
About the author: Marcia Xenitelis is a recognized authority on the subject on change management and has spoken at conferences around the world. For access to case studies and more information on the types of strategies you can implement to engage employees visit http://www.marciaxenitelis.com for a wealth of free informative articles and resources.
Contributor: Marcia Xenitelis
Published here on: 03-Aug-14