It has been said that “People hate change.” This is typically because people resist the things they don’t understand, the things they think will personally have a negative impact on them, and things they think will make their jobs more complicated. So when leaders try to communicate change, it may result in a certain amount of anxiety, negativity, or resistance. For this reason, most organizations have a difficult time implementing change successfully. However, the reality of today’s business climate is that change is everywhere. It is not a matter of if change will happen, but rather how often change will happen.
This requires today’s leaders to be skilled at convincing, persuading, and inspiring people to embrace change. The ability to inspire others to embrace change is largely dependent upon the leader’s ability to communicate from the listeners’ points of view. Listeners must understand the need and see how change is the logical option for addressing the need. This requires leaders to proactively think through any change they want to implement and how they should communicate that change to those being affected by it.
Before communicating change, here are five questions to think through:
- What evidence do you have for change? An example is a company that lost a $300,000 piece of business because the potential customer felt their customer service was subpar when they called in with questions. If you can quantify the situation, it is easier for others to see the need for change. Do you have an example of why change needs to happen?
- What is causing the need for change? Take the time to analyze if the need for change is created by a system, the current processes, or if it is a people problem. This will help to identify and address the correct problem instead of putting band-aids on the symptoms of the problem. Can you pinpoint the root cause of the problem?
- What steps need to be taken with the change? Many change initiatives fail because of a lack of planning. Plan a step-by-step integration of the change into the organization. This should include planning to address the impact of the change on individuals who will be most affected. Do you know the full effect it will have on your people and customers?
- How should the change be implemented? Organizations must decide if the change will be gradual or abrupt. Layoffs are often implemented with little warning, while technology changes may be phased in over a period of time. How will you implement change so that it is accepted?
- How will you measure the success of the change? Change for the sake of change is futile! To make change beneficial, you have to make sure you have checkpoints to see that the change is accomplishing its ultimate goal. If it is falling short, or people are not accepting the change, an adjustment may need to be made. What checkpoint will you implement?
Once you have taken the time to think through the questions above, you will be better prepared to communicate the need for change. You will be able to inspire your listeners to embrace the changes that will yield the desired results.