Change Only Works When…..

The shift towards an authentic customer-centred orientation is a huge shift for just about every large organisation.  That means organisational change. At the heart of all effective organisational change lies effective communication.  Effective communication is radically different, I say distinct, from what passes for communication in the workplace.

If you are going to make the kind of organisational shifts that are necessary to cultivate customer relationships, call forth the best from your employees, and excel at the customer experience game, then I advise you to listen to the wise words of Danny Meyer, in his book Setting The Table:

Communication is at the root of all business strengths and weaknesses. When things go wrong and employees become upset ….. nine times out of ten the justifiable complaint is, “We need to communicate more effectively.” I admit that for many years, I didn’t really know what this meant……… I thought I was a pretty good communicator, but then it dawned on me: communicating has as much to do with the context as it does content. ……. Understanding who need to know what, when people need to know it, and why, and then presenting that information in an entirely comprehensible way is a sine qua non of great leadership…..

People who aren’t alerted in advance about a decision that will affect them may become angry and hurt. They’re confused, out of the loop; they feel as though they’ve been knocked off their lily pads.  When team members complain about poor communication, they’re essentially saying, “You did not give me advance warning or input about that decision you made. By the time I learned about it, the decision had already happened to me, and I was unprepared.” Team members will generally go with the flow and be willing to hop over ripples, as long as they know in advance that you are going to toss the rock, when you’ll be tossing it, how big it is, and – mostly – why you are choosing to toss it in the first place. The key is to anticipate the ripple effects of any decision before you implement it, gauging whom it will affect, and to what degree. Poor communication is generally not a matter of miscommunication. More often, it involves taking away people’s feelings of control. Change works only when people believe it is happening for them, not to them.  And there’s not much in between…..

Posted on May 16, 2013, in Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership / Change / Transformation, Management and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Interesting snippet Maz

    I was once told that English is a high context when spoken by the British (who, where, why and when all matter much more than the words said) and a low context language when spoken by Australians (say what you mean absolutely unambiguously), which is why we think they are crude and they think we should get to the bleedin point (I generalise, a little)

    James

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  2. Hi Maz,
    I agree that good, effective and timely communication is key to generating and sustaining change. However, I see too many firms that rely too heavily on communication as their main mechanism for generating change and scratch their heads when it doesn’t happen or sustain itself. For me, action and generating momentum towards a new end that is agreed and embraced is just as important.

    Adrian

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    • Hello Adrian

      I find myself in agreement with you. And I go further. I say that a leader leads. If he expects his troops to march without food then he also marches without food. If he expects his people to take risks then he takes risks. If he expects his people to put the customer first then he puts the customer first.

      Maz

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