Ground Rule: Communicate Effectively

This is no time to lose touch with your people. But it’s easy to do when things are in a state of flux. The normal communication channels in the firm probably won’t be working as well as usual. The rumor mill will be in high gear. Meanwhile, your employees will be hungrier than ever for answers and information. Good communication is a two-way street. First, provide a variety of opportunities for employee input to you, and be a careful listener. Take more time with people. Be available. Ask more questions. Get their opinions and reactions to the changes. Maintain more visibility by circulating (“managing by wandering around”) and just making it clear that you are an accessible boss. The other part of good communication, of course, is getting the information to your people that they want and need. Keep employees updated on a regular basis. Just keeping them posted regarding the fact that you don’t have any new information is meaningful information to them. Strive to be specific rather than vague, candid rather than guarded. Clear up the rumors and misinformation that clutter the information channels. If your work group has communication problems, rest assured these will result in other secondary problems.

They will give birth to other serious issues such as:

  • Productivity decline
  • Loss of team play
  • Power struggles
  • Slippage in morale and job commitment
  • Lack of alignment
  • Damaging turnover

These red flags are symptomatic of weak communication practices, and they get expensive quickly.


Tools and Articles:
Weave A Web Of Connectivity

Forget about being a boss. You’re now a webmaster. Where the old management paradigm was about command and control over people, the new model is about connecting them together.

Instead of being preoccupied with “running the show,” put yourself in charge of weaving a human network. Management today is not about showing muscle and wielding power. It’s about you serving as connective tissue across your part of the organization. Rank simply won’t give you as much pull as it used to. The...

High-Quality Communication Rarely Ever Occurs By Accident

Faster-better-cheaper” uses information exchange as its motor. It requires tight coordination. Effective linkages. A free flow of ideas. Information hoarding is a cardinal sin and openness a key virtue.

That’s because communication problems never remain just communication problems. They weaken everything else. If you let communications get balled up, performance goes down. If people fall into the habit of hiding problems, sitting on good ideas, or withholding information, you soon end...

Don't Leave Management To Operate In The Dark

Managing during the first year of the merger isn’t going to be the same old drill, so the same old behaviors just don’t offer a lot of promise. Executives, middle managers, and first line supervisors desperately need expert coaching on merger dynamics and how to handle transition and change.

This is no place for OJT (on the job training) or a learn-as-you-go approach. There’s simply too much at stake. There are too many opportunities to foul up, and too much money goes down the tube...

Communicate More Demanding Standards Of Performance

Exploit the Instability

It is important not only to survive during the instability created by the merger or acquisition but to thrive on it, to exploit the upheaval. Managers commonly react by attempting to stabilize the organization during the transition, seeking to return things to normal. But this is an impossible task as well as a wasted opportunity. Instead of spending energy on a fruitless pursuit of normalcy, management should use the transition...

Change Naturally Creates An Information Vacuum

Somebody once said, “The more unpleasant the message, the more effort should go into communicating it.” This point is worth keeping in mind as you’re trying to push change.

Most major change initiatives run into public relations problems rather quickly. People see and hear things that disturb them. They’re disappointed by all the problems that always seem to arrive well ahead of the successes. As usual, bad news drives good news away, so people disregard much of that which actually...

When It Comes To Culture Change, Standard Communication Procedures Won't Cut It

You need a tremendous amount of high-quality communication to sustain a culture change. Managers typically underestimate the effort that is required. They rely on the normal communication practices and patterns, failing to consider that those methods were never designed for times like this. Standard communication procedures simply won’t cut it.

Consider the situation at hand. First, people need to hear the logic, the rationale, behind the decision to change the culture. Give them an...

Make A Sales Pitch For Change


Change produces some rather nasty side effects. The intent is to “fix things,” but the actual payoff frequently comes as a delayed reaction. You set out to make things better, but before you get very far you have to deal with the problems of your solutions.

This is the “it gets worse before it gets better” phenomenon. And it’s totally predictable.

As people have to break their familiar routines, performance...

Want to know the #1 reason why change management projects bog down? Or why so many eventually fail?

Here’s the dirty little secret: communication failure. The problem is hiding in plain view. And that’s probably why companies don’t catch on. “Communication failure” sounds so boring. So mundane. But you need to look at it this way—communication is the oxygen for change. It’s how we get things done…or not. If your messaging approach lacks muscle, your change efforts will cripple along...