Misconceptions about communication

Stop informing and start communicating when implementing change

4 June 2024

Change can sometimes be seen as a destructive process. For some, it means tearing down what has gone before and rebuilding afresh. But if your organisation tends to only see the destructive potential of change, it may suggest that you are not communicating the effect of change to your organisation. So, what better place to start change than with ourselves?

When implementing a new strategy, you install change – you bring things together and move them forward. But if you want to bring your organisation with you rather than just trying to push it along with the plan set forth, you need to convey a sense of all the effort, purpose and effect targeted. This can be done through business targets, clear roadmaps and a focus on the “what” and the “how” that is probably bigger than the “why”.

But we often forget the effect principle: to keep focus on the outcome of the change for the business and the people in it.

Perception: our employees will only embrace change if we communicate again and again.

Reality: we are often held back because people simply don’t know what to do and why they should do it.

The result: let’s communicate more.

As a leader implementing change, you need to at least let people know what you are concerned about and why we need to change the business, allow the organisation to have a perspective on the change ideas and invite them to participate in the implementation. The term we use here is “co-creation”.

But why does the implementation not work, even when the change needed is communicated repeatedly? Especially when we know from a multitude of surveys that organisations in general feel that management is not communicating enough.

The answer may be provocative, but sadly it is often true: because we communicate everything there is to communicate about the change and all at the same time.

When you communicate everything at the same time, communication becomes information; everything is important, and everything is communicated, but nobody knows what is relevant or what is important. The big “why” bursts into the organisation, and the only thing people want, apart from co-creation, is to know what needs to change and how it will affect the business, ways of working and us as individuals.

The way management communicates reflects the culture. If the culture is honest and authentic, their communication will obviously reflect that. Unfortunately, in many companies, the collective behaviour and communication controlled by management are often driven by conservative thinking. And if you try to control everything and please everyone, you will end up pleasing no one.

Therefore, be authentic to win people’s hearts. Build common ground. Accept that the organisation controls the understanding and communication of change. Changing conversations through simple and honest communication is truly fundamental to successful impact.

So, the best communication advice?
That would be to stop informing about everything (and thereby nothing) and start listening to the organisation and its needs and start communicating.

This is the real definition of change communication.

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