When David Bowie sang, “Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes,” he definitely wasn’t talking about organizational restructuring. But chances are, you’ve had to face the prospect of introducing significant changes to your team.
How can you communicate changes to maximize buy-in? By following these four strategies, you’ll be able to keep everyone aligned and focused — whether the changes you’re facing are expected or strange.
1. Emphasize that change is inevitable
Remind your team that change is a ubiquitous part of life. Technologies change. Regulations change. People change. We’ve dealt with change for our entire lives, so this new change really isn’t “new” at all.
Rather than fighting to stand still, figure out how you’re going to move forward in the best way possible. Tell your team that they’ve dealt with changes before, made adjustments, and moved on — they can do it again.
2. Stress that change is almost always experienced incrementally
Change is easier to deal with if you remember that it usually doesn’t happen all at once. Fall doesn’t come in a day. First, one leaf turns orange — and then another. So emphasize that the changes will come one leaf at a time, and your team will have time to adjust along the way. Small steps build confidence faster.
3. Maintain a sense of urgency
You need to generate momentum if you want to overcome resistance. Remind your team that the change is not a choice; they can only decide how they’re going to react to it. Once your team has momentum, adjusting to the change will become much easier.
If you’re having trouble getting your car started, you have to pump the gas to get the ignition to fire. Similarly, you need quick hits to get the change off the ground.
4. Articulate what success looks like
Finally, if you want your team to buy in, you need to provide a clear scorecard for success. What does the change mean for your team? What does the change mean for the organization as a whole? The clearer the goals, the more on-target the performance. You can’t get the prize unless you hit well-defined targets.
When change occurs in your business, some will be excited, some will be distressed, and some will be ambivalent. But regardless of how your leaders feel, clear communication will help ensure your team stays focused on the future. By following these strategies, you can make change happen faster, better, and more sustainably — until the next change, of course.