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 represents progress.
Communication is the crucial element in keeping the program moving.
As people increasingly question the need for change, you must remind them of the logic behind the effort. When they complain about all the problems, you need to showcase the benefits. If they begin to lose heart, you should offer words that help them keep the faith.
Your job is to be a promoter. An encourager. Change requires lots of cheerleading, and you need to do it loud enough to be heard above all the noise from the critics and naysayers.
Still, not all of your communication efforts need a positive spin. Some information should be passed along to your people in a matter-of-fact manner, without any rah-rah. For example, they need general updates on a frequent basis. It’s even smart to keep them posted about problems and to advise them of bad news well in advance.
Also, do your best to make communication a twoway street. Ask questions. Listen. Create completely new channels that make it easy and safe for people to express themselves.
Change just naturally creates an information vacuum, an atmosphere where there are more questions than answers. If you fail to satisfy your people’s craving for communication, the rumor mill will fill the void. That leads to worst-case thinking, a lot of warped messages, and an overheated worry factor that gets in the way of work. and an overheated worry factor that gets in the way of work.
Granted, good communication takes a lot of time and effort. But it’s a great investment. You’ll find a direct correlation between the quality of communication and how much resistance comes your way.
“Last night I neglected to mention something that bears repeating." —Ron Fairly, former San Francisco Giants broadcaster, during on-air game coverage