I Don’t Care How Fast You Were Running, When You Dropped the Baton
As a change management speaker, my keynote talks on change management often remind me of sports, especially Track & Field. So, I am sure this will lead to your first question: “Why does a change management motivational speech remind you of an event like a 440-relay?”
To understand Track & Field, you have to understand that when it comes to a relay race, the runners, across the board, are fairly evenly matched. Where the majority of relay races are won or lost is in the hand-off of the baton. A sloppy hand-off or worse, a dropped baton could mean going from first to last.
In managing an organizational change, in failing to thoroughly communicate what is happening, can be as catastrophic as a dropped baton.
Need to Know? I Don’t Think So
There was a time in organizational history when so-called “hard-charging” executives would often berate employees who asked about impending changes would say, “That’s on a need-to-know basis.”
This invariably leads to the second question: “Shouldn’t you keep big changes to the management team?”
As a change management motivational speaker, I can assure everyone that the best way to lose good employees during a period of change and uncertainty is to dismiss their questions. Recent studies back me up on this point. Communication is essential in change management. Missed opportunities to communicate are like dropping the baton.
In a detailed research paper on organizational change, the prestigious journal, European Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies concluded (2017):
“Effective communication can be the key to a change process. It can help employees get engaged in the change process as well make them aware of the vision and objectives related to the change. In turn it helps organizations to persuade employees that the status quo is no longer satisfactory and motivates them to support the new state…”
In talking to groups about change management I put it in even simpler terms: “What are you afraid of telling your employees?” For, if we can cultivate a sense of everyone being in it together, we will get though it together.
Career change expert Susan Healthfield recently wrote (February 2021):
“In a best-case scenario, every employee has the opportunity to talk about, provide input to, and have an impact on the changes you are pursuing…In a company-wide change effort, for example, the employee input will most likely affect how to implement the changes at a departmental level, not the issue of whether to make the changes in the first place.”
While not every employee must have the big picture communicated in specific detail, they should certainly be included in how the change will affect their department.
Where This Leads
Communication is empowering, never a nuisance. As a change management expert, I have learned that the more that is known, the better we will all face the change together. When we are all working together and not at cross purposes, there is more resolve, more buy-in and more of a chance to succeed.
I think again to the analogy of the relay race team. The team that is most adept at handing off the baton, even if a fraction slower than the best runners “on paper,” will often win. Why? They are unafraid to work together, to practice harder and to believe in one another. You can’t beat that.
Book Mike Hourigan, Change Management Keynote and Change Breakout Session Speaker today, for a virtual or in-person presentation. Contact Mike today at (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.