Most transformational change management plans rely heavily on communication as the cornerstone of the plan. Based on our thirty plus years in the trenches of global organizations, we have seen what communication techniques actually create "speed bumps," and which techniques can be employed as "accelerators."
Since speed is a competitive advantage in the marketplace, transformational change that is implemented quickly, and achieves value realization on time, on budget, to spec is highly desirable from a business perspective.
So here are some communication speed bumps and accelerators you should be aware of on your implementation project:
- Formal communication has been less than optimal, so the grapevine is powerful.
- Communication is infrequent, sporadic.
- Communication is not monitored and evaluated for its effectiveness.
- There is over-reliance on communication vehicles that are not face-to-face.
- Messages and communication vehicles selected are not in the "Frame of Reference" of the intended audience.
- Communication is not two-way.
- "Change" is communicated as the panacea for all the organizational
- No feedback loops are associated with each communication.
- The same words are used repeatedly to describe the project despite the fact they were not understood the first time.
Here are some actions you can take on that will help you speed up your transformational change implementation through more effective communication planning:
1. Develop a communication campaign that emphasizes the reality of multiple Frames of Reference, and uses multiple vehicles to communicate.
2. For transformational changes, use new delivery mechanisms to demonstrate that this is radical change.
3. Make all communications "cyclical" and "iterative." Use frequent repetition of messages, but with different words to reach multiple Frames of Reference.
4. Create the expectation that there will be regular communication that is credible and comprehensive.
5. Evaluate your communications to ensure they are achieving your goals.
6. Test the effectiveness of your communications for both content and process. Remember that the process is extremely important and sends messages that may be either consistent or inconsistent with your desired future state.
7. Be vigilant about emphasizing the need for face to face communication from Sponsors.
Your transformational change communications must match the psychological needs of your Targets at a specific point in time, and must be in the Frame of Reference of those Targets.
If you are relying on trying to convince your Targets of the "wonderful rationale" of your change from the perspective of executives, you can easily and unintentionally be generating more resistance. If you don't build a feedback loop into each and every communication, you have no way of knowing what Targets are thinking and feeling, and where the likely sources of resistance are.
Your communications plan is not just a way to create readiness by sharing information. That's important, but it isn't enough. What are you doing to slow down or speed up your transformational change?