Henry: “Steven, I am really concerned about the changes the company is initiating and how the employees in my division are going to react.” (He rolled his eyes, took a deep breath and continued.) “I came here 5 years ago and we’ve seen 5 new directors come and go during that time. Every one of those directors had a new idea or plan that we had to embrace, only to see all of our efforts thrown out when the company decided to get a new director.”
Me: “Tell me why you’re concerned about the new initiatives.”
Henry: “Well in the past, every decision that introduced a change in our process was made in secret and handed down at the last moment. No time for questions, buy-in or troubleshooting. The morale takes another hit, there is no trust and the complainers get a little louder.”
That conversation sounds too familiar, doesn’t it? I hear the same thing all over the country as I coach leaders in different industries - manufacturing, high-tech, offices, and non-profits. However, on occasion I hear a different story. There are organizations and leaders that have discovered that having an open dialogue and including people in the early stages of change is a successful strategy.
Sharing important information with the people of your organization will generate five significant outcomes.
- It provides a foundation for them to understand the issues and decisions that have to be made.
- It minimizes the potential for speculation and misunderstandings.
- The “power brokers” in the organization that try to generate fear will have their leverage minimized.
- It creates opportunity for meaningful discussions and opportunity for people to offer suggestions/ideas on how to make the transitions successful.
- And most importantly, it sends a clear message that they are important enough to be trusted with the information.
Remember: You are not leading change, you are leading people.
— Steven Iwersen