Change communication: overrated or dire necessity?

News

I’m sitting in my car, 7th in line while waiting for an open bridge. The sun is shining on the water and impressive sail boats are waiting in the canal, to enter the sea. So, I do as any tourist would do, I turn off the engine of my car and observe the wonderful surroundings.

The only thing is, I am not on a holiday, but on a writing retreat somewhere near the beach and harbour of a small village. As a storm raged through our country yesterday, causing havoc, I ran out of groceries. So, I am in a bit of a rush to visit the supermarket and am being blocked by the open bridge to get there. 

The standstill and uncertainty

As I wait in line, something becomes apparent. There is an undeniable lack of movement amongst the boats, that want to pass through. Minutes tick by and after 15 minutes of waiting, I get kind of restless. I am not alone with these feelings, as I notice other drivers are starting to get impatient too. 

Dilemmas and primal reactions

And here I am, uncertain what to do. Wait or turn back? Imagine I would turn back and all of a sudden, the boats start to move, and the bridge will close again. And then what? Would I have to re-join the back of the line again? Do you recognise this kind of feeling?

As the minutes drag on, negativity and questions start to surface. Is there a problem? Why do we not get any information. Drivers start to respond – some give up and leave the line, others take action and seek information, while others stay impatiently in their cars, waiting for a sign.

Fight, flight or freeze – The change parallels

In one of my previous #businessagilityboostThe battle within our brain, I wrote about the stages people go through, while being impacted by a change or transformation. Fight, flight or freeze are the primal reactions we have to change. Observing what happened while waiting at the bridge, I must admit I am quite impressed by the responses I see in front of me.

3 instinctive responses to change

Bridging the communication GAP

Now, what does my experience have to do with change and transformation, I hear you think. Well think about it. The total lack of communication during my time at the bridge, mirrors the communication GAPs, we often encounter in organisations in general and specifically during transformations

In organisations preparing for a transformation initiative, I regularly get questions like: “When do we to start to communicate? What are we going to tell? Who should tell our story? Until when should we communicate?” And even: “Should we communicate already, as we do not have all the information yet available to us.”

The power of communication

Let’s be clear here, not communicating is never the answer or option. Remember the Change Curve we discussed in that same blog nr8, The battle within our brain? People go through various stages during change. We are all different – some have patience while others get restless and take their own stance. And let’s not forget about who actually decides if the information is relevant or not.

Research tells us that our attention span lasts only 8 seconds, before our thoughts start to wander. After 15 minutes we start to develop negative thoughts, when we do not get any new information. And most people are only prepared to wait a bit longer, if they get something in return – transparent information.

How do we make transformation easier? How do we keep our teams engaged, patient, and supportive throughout the change process?

Here’s are some of the keys to make this possible:

  • Navigate together through times of uncertainty
  • Start conversations early in the process
  • Engage everyone – colleagues, peers, employees, customers – in shaping the change
  • Be transparent and don’t keep anything behind closed doors
  • Share what you know, your thoughts your vision, and the status of your company

Even if it is not much that you can share, transparency is crucial.

Yes, this also means that you are open about what you do not know yet. It’s about acknowledging the uncertainty and navigating through that uncertainty together.

Do you recognise above situation? Has a lack of transparent communication during change ever left you feeling as stranded, as those drivers waiting at the broken bridge?

Communication is the lifeline

Then finally, I got the news from a passing car that the bridge was broken, and it could take at least another hour of waiting. I couldn’t help but draw the parallels to what I often see happening in many organisations. Communication is the lifeline of any transformation and makes the process and people’s life’s a lot easier. 

Additionally, if you have questions leave a comment or get in touch to understand how we can support you.

Thanks for reading this blog and looking forward to your response!

I hoop to meet you soon. And don’t hesitate to connect. Additionally, if you have questions leave a comment or feel free to get in touch for a call to discuss how I can further help you on this journey. 

Transforming lives and business for good.

Cheers,

Alize Hofmeester

It’s my purpose to spark the Human X-factor and create purpose driven spaces where everybody is able to grow.

How? Put people & purpose at the heart of your organisation and drive your transformation People Led.

Passionated about living by purpose. Entrepreneur and founder of Twinxter and the TwinxterAcademy, Author of Purpose Driven People, creating business agility & sustainable growth, Co-author of Agile People Principles, Transformational Leadership in the fitness and physical activity sector & Emergence, Creator of the People Journey Circle, Keynote Speaker

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Alize Hofmeester

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