In today’s fast-paced work environment, changes are inevitable. From updates to processes and products to alterations in schedules, it’s essential to communicate these changes effectively.
This article delves into the art of better communicating these updates to team members, stakeholders, and customers. The focus is on making sure the changes are perceived as positive, even if they may be initially met with resistance. It also highlights the importance of catering to the audience, and how including them in the change process can lead to buy-in and acceptance. The ultimate goal is to ensure a seamless transition while maintaining the trust and confidence of all parties involved.
Establish a Perspective of Improvement from the Get-Go
Constant change is a product of time. Changes may come at home, at work, or in the world around you. As you gain influence in life, you’ll maybe even be responsible for enacting and communicating those changes. The changes being made are almost always stemmed from a perspective to improve. The mistake that people make however, is in the way that they communicate the good changes being made to those who are affected by these changes.
For example, making a change to the ticket management software for your work’s IT help desk staff would leave a bad first impression if you labeled the change as an attempt to “dumb it down.”
Even though the change itself may be an improvement to all parties involved, the way you frame that change has a big effect on how people perceive the change itself. If you change something to “dumb it down,” you inherently label those who enjoy the change you made as dumb individuals, since they’d now be fans of a dumbed down version of the workflow.
Below, are two things to always keep in mind when communicating your act of making changes which will affect others at work, at home, or socially around you.
The Changes Were Made for Smart People
Far too often, our attempts to make things easier for others are ruined by the way we frame our attempts. Your attempts to change a process at work, circumstance at home, or schedule with your friend are likely stemmed from a desire to make things easier, and free up resources for other, more important things.
Framing those changes by saying: “People found the previous workflow difficult to follow,” for instance, would insinuate that changes were made to alleviate the pain of the weakest links on your team or in your home. You’d prime those who agree with the changes you make as inherently agreeing to be labeled as having found the previous workflow difficult to follow.
Saying, “Mike couldn’t make it to lunch at 12:00 PM, so we rescheduled,” places unnecessary pressure and attention on Mike. It places responsibility on his shoulders in the off chance that the new scheduled time doesn’t work for someone else, or if the newly scheduled time is too busy for enjoyment at the restaurant.
A better way to frame a time change in that regard, would be to cite the fact that the new time works for all involved, and by presenting another benefit to the newly scheduled time. “Traffic will likely be lighter at 2:00 PM, and we’re all free at that time. What do you think?”
Ensure that you frame your changes to always improve the situations of those whom those changes affect. Do this not by telling them that they under-performed prior, but by stating that the specified change will improve their already adequate state of being. In the first example above, simply say that the new workflow aims to save your colleagues time and effort, rather than citing the weak links on your team as the reason for the change.
Always cater to people’s desire to be better when making changes, and voice your reasons for changes with aspects of self improvement behind them. Rather than pointing out people’s shortcomings as reasons for making the specific change in process, work, or habit, single out people’s desire to improve without reminding them of their shortcomings.
Cater to the People Who Like Your Changes
On a related point, make it fashionable to like the changes that you make. Ensure to protect people who become fans of the new changes that you make. By saying your change to a certain work process at the office was meant to alleviate the difficulties people had with the prior one, you put those who are fans of the new process in a predicament. If they express their liking of the new process you establish, they’d label themselves as having had a difficult time with the other one even if they didn’t. If these people held a stake in following that prior process, they’d be unlikely to label it as difficult to follow, and thereby would be unlikely to be complimentary of the changes you’ve made.
By catering to aspects of others’ self improvement and good traits, you’ll motivate them to become vocal in their appreciation of your efforts.
“This new process was intelligently suggested to me by a few of you, and it makes total sense to implement.”
The sentence prior to this can be used to communicate a change which was solicited by those who found the prior process difficult too. Except in this case, you wouldn’t label them to have found the prior process difficult, you’d label them as intelligent. Those who like the new process would be likelier to align themselves with it, and defend it against those who aren’t its biggest fans.