One of the fascinating and intimidating phenomena that occurs once organizations start to implement fundamental and critical change (sometimes radical in the original sense of the word). This effect can't be stopped once it started, so the only way any business or organization can deal with it, is to manage it.
Once we start transformation initiatives, this means, we create a ripple effect. We can control the beginning, but we never know in all details how communication is going to develop and in what way information travels within the organization. Therefore, we need to make plans for the following contingencies:
What we communicated about the upcoming change begins to differ drastically from what currently runs as gossip in the teams - to such an extent that the work environment may turn toxic.
Misinformation or unstructured communication leads to a lot of questions and worries.
Stress levels increase in all teams across the board.
Managers and executives don't communicate effectively what the transformation core team has put on the agenda.
Here are recommendations how to cope with communication running wild and how to keep motivation, satisfaction and productivity even with a seemingly unstable environment:
#1 Create a steady platform
You want to keep the team updated. Use a regularly scheduled platform to answer questions, to present the process, and to show the work on the change. The purpose is NOT to be judged or evaluated but rather to inform and educate.
The biggest fear arises in the face of the unknown. Once you take away the mystery with facts, you begin a trust-building process.
Make sure there is a clear agenda. Don't make it a top-down briefing but rather an interactive segment. Let your teams gather questions beforehand and answer them in the course of the event.
#2 Share objectives
The greatest resource for motivation are your objectives. Don't just throw KPIs at your teams but rather show them the qualitative side of your goals. Once you make your teams understand what you try to accomplish, they are much more willing to assist you.
Be careful that you don't communicate the goals that might scare the teams. High ambitions are good but not if it induces fear because they don't understand how you are going to accomplish those goals.
#3 Communicate the why
It is much easier to go along with your goals if you understand the reasons behind them. That is true for you and that is true for your team, too. Make sure you show why you and your team no longer can work as they've done it before and why it is necessary to change. Show the pain, the cost, the risks if you don't change and why you think your goals are the right ones.
#4 Show a shiny future
One thing most people forget is that it is not simply enough to know what you want to stop (whether it's behavior or bad habits). You also need to know what to start. That combination leads to the fact that people have to leave their comfort zone to effectively implement change. Therefore, you can assist in this process of overcoming old habits by showing the new level of comfort that awaits as the effect of the transformation effort. This will set people's mind at ease that the journey is worth it and you will harness motivation.
What is your tool to overcome the cascade effect of information running wild and mutating like a virus?
About the author:
Marc Breetzke, M.A., M.A. is the founder of MB Inspirations and Europe's leading strategy expert. He works as a consultant, trainer, coach, speaker, and lecturer all over the world for large, international businesses (e.g. Fortune 500) and leaders. He studied Strategic Communications in Germany and in the United States. Today, he operates
from his head-office in Stuttgart, Germany.