Getting Buy-In For Change Begins With Effective Communication

man in thought bubbleBy Robin Stevens, Internal Operations Coach

Communication is one of the most important skills you need to succeed in the workplace. One of the greatest challenges leaders face is effectively communicating change. To succeed you must be a great sender and receiver of information related to change. A sender is anyone providing information, the receiver is anyone being given the information.

Senders and Receivers are often not in a dialogue at the onset of a communication. They talk right past one another. What a sender says and what a receiver hears are typically two different messages. For example, if a supervisor sits down with an employee to discuss a change in the company, the supervisor may be enthusiastic and positive. She may cover all the key messages including the business reasons for change, the risk of not changing and the urgency to change for the organization to remain competitive. The supervisor may even emphasize that this is a challenging and exciting time. However, when the employee discusses this change at home over dinner, the key messages to his family might be:

“The company is not doing well”

“I am worried about my job”

As leaders, when communicating a change we tend to talk 95% of the time about the impact it has on the company and 5% on how it will impact our team members. When communicating changes to team members the first thing they start thinking is how it will impact me personally. As soon as that happens your conversation is being overshadowed by concerns related to job security and fear about change.

Before you start communicating, take a moment to figure out what you want to say, and why. Start with how the change will impact the team members. Don't waste your time conveying information that isn't necessary – and don't waste the receiver’s time either. Too often, people just keep talking or keep writing – because they think that by saying more, they'll surely cover all the points. Often, however, all they do is confuse the people they're talking to.

When you know what you want to say, decide exactly how you'll say it. You're responsible for sending a message that's clear and concise. To achieve this, you need to consider not only what you'll say, but also how the receiver may perceive it.

We often focus on the message that we want to send, and the way in which we'll send it. But if our message is delivered without considering the other person's perspective, it's likely that part of the message will be lost.

Tips for communicating change more effectively:

  • Understand your objective.
  • Understand what your receiver may need.
  • Check your attitude and tone. If you think the message may be misunderstood, it probably will be.
  • Seek feedback to be sure the receiver understood the message as it was intended.

Nobody is a perfect communicator all the time. But it starts with one person making the effort to improve, which often encourages others to communicate better.


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