Today, we are going to cover the topic of choosing the right communication style when communicating change. This is something that is a very simple concept, but companies get it wrong so often. If you learn this concept today and commit it to your memory, I promise it will pay off at some point in your career.
Let me start by giving a quick lesson on the change curve. This is the process we all go through when faced by change. Everybody goes through these steps every time. Some people go through the steps faster than others. Even the same person might go through the steps at a different pace for different changes. We did a series on each of these phases, so if you want to dive deeper into the phases, I encourage you to go back and listen to episodes 13-16.
Episode 13: Components of Change Management: Awareness
Episode 14: Components of Change Management: Desire
Episode 15: Components of Change Management: Knowledge
Episode 16: Components of Change Management: Ability & Reinforcement
Think about a major change that you’ve gone through in your past. When you became aware of the change, how did you feel? You may have felt betrayed or you may have been in denial. Your head was probably spinning with thoughts of ‘what does this mean?” and all of the different concerns you have about the change. Your mind is going 80 miles per hour – with lots of questions. You are in a bit of a fog best case, and you could be really emotional worst case.
Because of the state of mind you are in at the time you become aware of the change, the best communication style is an informative one. Just the facts. Keep it simple. With everything else going on in your mind, there isn’t room for a lot of additional information. And, in the event the change is really big, you don’t want to hear a lot of inspirational talk. It will feel insincere. So, at the start of a change curve, communication needs to be informative.
As you work through the Desire phase and into the Knowledge phase, you begin to move into what is called Identify Crisis. At this point, your head isn’t spinning about the change and you are starting to understand what your new world will look like, but there are still a lot of unknowns so you are still unsure of your ability to step into the change. During this identity crisis phase, the best communication style is supportive. Communication needs to be softer than just the facts. It needs to give a sense of support for the impact it is having on employees. It should reinforce that the change process is normal, everyone goes through it at their own pace, and that nobody is going to be left behind. It should also be supportive in the literal sense. Provide resources people need to gain knowledge about the change and clearly outline the process they should follow if they need more support.
Finally, as you move out of knowledge and into ability, you are starting to gain a new identity. You are searching for solutions about how you will operate in the new normal. At this point, communication should be inspirational. This is when you start to paint a picture of the new world and how much better it will be than the old one. This is the time to celebrate the change. Trying to communicate inspirationally when you first announce a change will fall on deaf ears because there are more immediate needs at that time. But, one everyone has gotten through their initial shock and been able to get a better picture in their mind about how their world is going to change, they will be ready for an inspirational message to help propel them forward with confidence.
Strategy is something that is traditionally left to the C-Suite or other executives. This is a podcast for those who are early in their career or are not interested in leadership positions, so you may think that strategy isn’t important for you to understand. But – you are the CEO of your career, so you do need to understand it. And, one of the things that you should think about is whether or not your company has a strategy that will make it viable in the long run.
What I want to do in this episode is give you another criterion to consider about whether the job you have or are looking at taking in the future is a good fit for you – it is called the inflection point.
The inflection point is a point in the future where the fundamentals of the business are going to change.
Meaning, everything the current business is built on becomes obsolete and a whole new set of rules apply.
A good strategy will
You want to work for a company that gets this.
In addition, you, as an employee, should be able to recognize and accept change that may come if your company is in the middle of executing a strategy to change the fundamentals of the business. Prepare yourself for changes that may come by assessing:
We all have times when we get into a funk – something in our life isn’t where we want it to be – our job, our marriage, or community involvement. When the funk is about your job, we sometimes call it the Sunday Night Blues.
So, how do you get out of the funk? The goal is to become unstuck.
Step 1: Recognize that you are feeling stuck
Getting stuck usually happens little by little, and you don’t always recognize that you are feeling stuck.
Step 2: Focus on the objective of getting unstuck
Tell yourself that getting unstuck is possible. Say it out loud. It helps with your mindset.
Step 3: Figure out what is causing you to be stuck
You may need to dig deep. The reason may not be obvious at first.
Step 4: Take Action
Use your unconscious mind to help you solve the problem.
Don’t wait until you know the answer to start moving in the right direction.
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This is the final episode in our series on the 5 components of change. If you missed the others, start here.
One of the things that we’ve tried to emphasize is that you are responsible for your own adoption of the change. We continue that theme in this episode – forming a new habit and making the change stick as part of your everyday routine are the final components of change.
Anytime we encounter a change, it knocks us off our routine, which means that we are likely to take a hit to our productivity. Your responsibility is to recognize that you will likely take a productivity hit, and make whatever adjustments are necessary to accommodate the change.
It may be a mental adjustment—giving yourself permission to be frustrated, but knowing that it will eventually pass as the change becomes your new routine.
It may also be a physical adjustment—recognizing that something is going to take more time than it used to because you are having to learn a new process or routine, and building in extra time to get things done.
You also have responsibility to go after answers to questions that come up that weren’t addressed as part of the training.
By taking an active role in the change, you are ensuring your success.
Knowledge is the 3rd component of change, and it is what most people think of when they think of change management - giving the people who need to make a change the information necessary to make the change. It typically takes the form of training.
Your responsibility in this component of change is to make sure you are giving it the attention it deserves. If training is provided, you need to take responsibility to attend it and pay attention. This isn’t always easy because we are all busy. But, your role is to make sure you make the time necessary to get the knowledge you need in order to adopt the change. Without this knowledge, you can’t be successful.
Miss the first 2 episodes in this series?
Components of Change: Awareness
Components of Change: Desire
We are all impacted by change. Some of them we accept easily, others, not-so-much. But, even if it isn’t a change you are excited about, you can make the whole process better for yourself by understanding the components of change and coming up with a process for dealing with change that works well for you. I believe that one of the most overlooked components of change is the fact that it is very personal.
Over the course of 4 episodes, we are going to dive into the components of change, and in this episode, we start where is all begins, Awareness.
We all love to hate change. But, I believe that change gets a bad wrap because you actually accept a lot of change with absolutely no drama. But, you don’t remember those situations because they weren’t really painful. So, you don’t give yourself credit for accepting all of those changes. When there is a change you struggle with, you remember it. Over time, you forget the changes you accepted easily and remember the changes you didn’t and come to the conclusion that you aren’t good with change.
When a change is coming your way, determine where you fall on the scale of change reaction:
What happens when you are toward the total freak-out side of the scale? Here are some things to keep in mind:
Change comes from your concern about the impacts of the change – you need to spend some time thinking about what answers you need in order to get comfortable with your new normal.
Recognize the stress that you are feeling – Stress begets stress. Once you recognize that your reaction to this change is stressful, you’ll begin to calm down, which will allow you to start to think through the change rationally.
You are in charge of your reaction - Taking control of your reaction means you are going to be more productive.
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