Tell me if this sounds familiar. Your organization is getting ready for a major change. The “go-live” date is drawing near, and someone says, “Oh wait! We need to do change management!” Someone else says, “Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered. A mass email is going out next week, the website will go live right after that and there will be several social media posts as well.” Excellent. They definitely have that covered. I’m sure this change will be very successful (insert eye roll here).
Why is it after almost every project is complete, the most common suggestion for future initiatives is, “we need to communicate better?” Organizations spend a lot of time and money putting together intricate communication plans, but at the end of the day they hear the same “we aren’t very good at communicating” feedback time and time again. What is it that makes communicating during change so difficult?
Everyone knows communication during change is important. But, when you’re talking about transformational change it becomes imperative. In fact, in our 30 ➕ years of working on transformation projects in multiple industries including 🏢 and 🏥, we have yet to come across a client who has ever over-communicated during transformational change. It’s also absolutely essential that your communication provide the psychological cues that this is radical change!
“My Sponsor doesn’t care about Change Management.” No surprise. If you want to connect with people, you have to speak their language, not yours. If you go to France, the best option is to speak French. Going to Italy? It’s a good idea to purchase an Italian dictionary. That’s why Don Harrison, founder of the Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) Change Management Methodology says, “When you go to Sponsorland, you need to speak the language of Sponsors.” It’s why we spend a lot of time practicing Sponsor Contracting in the AIM Accreditation program.
Despite the increasing maturity and sophistication around how to manage change projects, there is still one myth out there that seems to sustain itself from the boardroom through senior management ranks: “Just getting planned messages out is enough to not only generate commitment to the change, but to actually have people change their behavior.” Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.
40 years. That’s how long Don Harrison, President and founder of IMA has been working in the Change Management industry. While some may joke he started when he was 5, Don has dedicated his entire career to implementing complex changes in organizations. His frequent application of this expertise to technology implementations, cultural changes, mergers and acquisitions, and business process initiatives has led to his popularity as a consultant and keynote speaker for national and international conferences. Plus he is really funny, and that helps!
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."