Change Management Training Communicate Effectively

Make A Sales Pitch For Change

. . . AND POINT OUT THE WARNING LABEL AS WELL

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 weakens. It’s an awkward time, with more confusion, communication problems and job stress.

This is a completely normal turn of events. Just the same, it looks bad. If people aren’t mentally prepared for it, chances are they’ll conclude that the plan isn’t working. The grumbling gets louder, and the change effort loses steam.

Resistance always spikes up when the predictable problems of change take people by surprise. So you need to set the stage. Make it clear at the very outset that change won’t be a trouble-free process.

Sure, you should make a sales pitch for the change. Just be sure to point out the warning label as well.

The big mistake is to paint only the rosy part of the picture, limiting your forecasting to some song and dance about how great the change is going to be. That kind of propaganda will come back to haunt you. The fact is, not everything will be just fine and dandy. Problems always crop up when serious change gets under way. If you come across as a Pollyanna, you’ll kill your credibility, your people will be resentful, and they’ll be less likely to support you going forward. It’s not pretty.

The best move is to give everyone an accurate sense of what’s coming. This amounts to a balancing act, where you mix the good news with the bad. If you level with them, then at least they can steel themselves for the struggle ahead.

John Sununu (then governer of New Hampshire): “You’re telling us that the reason things are so bad is that they are so good, and they will get better as soon as they get worse?”

James A. Baker (then Secretary of the Treasury): “You got it.”​