“The only constant in business is change.” “If you don’t change, your business will die.” Clichés, maybe, but true nonetheless. Yet, many organizations seem to fail to adhere to these two truths.
They see that the market is changing. They visualize their business in the future. They put in place plans to guide change and build competitive advantage. Then they run into a brick wall of resistance, as employees find increasingly ingenious ways to slow down their output and make sure that new processes and practices aren’t successful.
In this article, you’ll learn how communicating vision to guide change will motivate your employees to work harder.
You’ve developed the vision of the future. What next?
John Kotter’s eight-step process for change is the leading framework to guide change projects to a successful conclusion. Early on in this framework, an organization’s leaders will develop their vision of the future. Once this is agreed, with immediate effect the organization should task its leaders with communicating that vision.
Why must you communicate your vision to the wide audience?
The days of authoritarian rule in organizations have gone. People now need to understand the motivations behind change to embrace change. By communicating the vision of the future, leaders will be able to guide people to this level of understanding. Onboarded by effective communication, employees will be motivated to work harder to achieve the shared vision of the future.
How to communicate vision and guide change
There are five things an organization must do to ensure that it and its leaders and managers communicate change effectively:
1. Make communication a two-way habit
If telling people what to do no longer works, it can be derived that telling them what the future vision is will also fail. Organizations must engage employees in the change to guide their bias, while simultaneously listening to the contributions they make to the change program. This open and transparent communication process is alien to many organizations and its managers, but is essential to promote effective change.
2. Ensure that people understand change communication
Before, during, and after the change program, leaders and managers should:
- Communicate in simple, informal language
- Resist the temptation to use industry speak and jargon
- Answer the question “What’s in it for me?”
3. Lead change by example
Leaders of change must live and breathe the new behaviors and cultural adaptations that the change program envisages, and do so visibly every day. People must believe that their leaders believe in the change and not merely paying it lip service.
4. Pay attention to how the vision is communicated
In communication efforts, it will be an imperative to consider not only what message is conveyed, but also how it is conveyed. Effective methods include emails, group meetings, one-to-ones, intranets, team meetings, etc. Different groups of employees will respond better to different communication methods, and the method chosen may also be determined by the message being disseminated.
5. Switch statistics for stories
Use real life stories and examples, and not endless statistics, to reiterate the benefits of change. Metaphors and analogies paint pictures that people can visualize. This helps to create urgency and meaning.
Effective communication creates engagement and leads to motivation
Guiding change is not easy, but when it is executed effectively it leads to change program success. The secret is for organizations to pay more attention to communicating vision, and engaging their people in that vision. When people understand the reasons for a new direction and feel that they are integral to its success, they are motivated to work hard toward the shared vision.
Guiding change is vision oriented. Leading change is a communication process.
Contact Forward Focus today to discover how an Emotional Intelligence course will develop and embed effective personal skills and ensure that your leaders and managers are fully prepared to guide change.