There is an assumption that people in management and/or leadership are good communicators. This is not always the case. When managing change in your business, this is a dangerous belief to have.
Why? Because 70% of all change initiatives fail. Business owners need to do everything in their power to ensure their people are able to communicate effectively in periods of change, to give their initiative the best chance of success.
I think it’s about time we shine the spotlight on change management and debunk some myths associated with it.
What is change management
Change management covers the process, tools and techniques that are used to manage the people side of change within an organisation. Change management is used to achieve agreed business outcomes and is relevant whenever an organisation attempts to go in a new direction.
I’ve included some examples in the section below.
Change management incorporates tactics designed to help individuals make successful transitions, which can result all together in change on a much larger scale.
Why is change management important
Managing change is not easy. McKinsey tells us that 70% of all change initiatives fail. But it’s of the utmost importance that businesses are able to buck this trend and manage change successfully.
Why? Because change is happening all the time. It’s inevitable. Particularly in today’s fast-paced digital world.
The principles of change management come into play every time a company attempts any of the following:
- Culture program
- Values program
- Corporate restructure
- Customer-centric refocus
- Employee-centric refocus
- Wellbeing program
- Training program
- Digital transformation
- Office move
The list goes on.
Change management may be a set of processes, tools and techniques, but the secret to successfully managing change is great communication.
Why effective communication is central to successful change
Change and growth happen through communication.
If leaders are communicating in a way that is inconsistent, unengaging, or without structure, they won’t get buy-in from stakeholders. And in order for change to happen, everyone needs to be on board.
When the change vision, requirements and successes are communicated clearly and passionately, it’s difficult for employees to resist. Change becomes a positive step in the right direction.
The only way to persuade your audience and inspire followers is through effective communication.
Think of every inspirational leader or great communicator you’ve ever come across. Did they look you in the eye when they spoke to you? Did they know your name and understand what you were going through? Perhaps they understood exactly how something was going to be of benefit to you. Or maybe they just delivered an entertaining, logical, polished presentation that held your attention.
These are just some of the hallmarks of conscious communicators. They know how to engage.
One of the main reasons change initiatives fail is due to lack of proper engagement. So, up the engagement, up your change success rates.
How to be in the winning 30% and grow your business
Knowing what we know about how change and communication are related, do you really want to entrust the fate of your business transformation and growth to the (unknown) ability of your managers to engage with their audience?
The vast majority of these leaders learned their communication skills from their managers, and them from their managers. And so on and so forth. Perhaps you did too.
None were necessarily skilled in the art of effective communication. In this way, all too often, companies end up filled with what we call, “unconscious communicators.”
To our horror, we’ve even witnessed many communication trainers that exhibit the hallmarks of unconscious communicators!
These hallmarks are:
- Speaking off the cuff
- No deep understanding of their audience
- Unpolished, lengthy or disjointed presentation
- Not relating to the audience
- No follow up
- Commit “death by PowerPoint”
- No clear call to action
- Poor diction, projection or body language
- Speaking in industry jargon
These are the people that are leading the 70% of change initiatives that are unsuccessful.
Invest in proper communication training for your leaders and managers, so your business is in the winning 30%. This is the easiest way to transform your change initiative success rate and start seeing results.
3 quick communication tips for successfully managing change
1. Use stories to connect with your audience and win their trust
Storytelling is a scientifically proven way to engage your audience and influence their thinking. Stories can connect employees to the change vision and benefits. They can also help to reduce fear and uncertainty and provide a sense of urgency for the change by expressing what could happen if it doesn’t go ahead.
2. Always come back to ‘what’s in it for them?’
Humans are pretty self-centred when it comes to changing their behaviour. When managing change, your communication should be designed around the benefits to your audience of making the required change.
3. Communicate the vision to inspire your audience and create followers
Inspiring people with the vision of a better world is a powerful way to get them to change. Organisational change legend Professor John Kotter calls this, “the big opportunity,” and his 8 step process for managing change is designed around it.
Communication is the heartbeat of your business. It fuels all your growth and change success. If your heartbeat is weak, erratic, or inconsistent, so too will be your business.
Build conscious communication ability in your managers and leaders to strengthen the heartbeat of your business. Begin by downloading our free business storytelling eBook today and see what a difference great communication can make.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.
Erica Bagshaw is an entrepreneur, Executive Coach and Co-Founder of The Colin James Method® and Inner Profit Pty Ltd a vibrant leadership development company in Australia. She has spent the majority of her career growing and developing close client partnerships. She loves sharing her expertise on the perfect pitch.