The annual employee forum is the only time of the year employees get to see the executives. At the event, the executive team briefs the employees on the state of the business and the focus for the coming year. This company embarked on a transformation initiative a year ago. There has been little communication on the initiative. Many changes became known at the time of rollout.
Poor transparency of information and a lack of visibility have left employees in suspense. Those who worried about their job departed as soon as they found another position elsewhere. Productivity went downhill. Transparency and visibility are essential to build trust during change. You need both to be successful.
Transparency involves sharing pertinent information at the right time. There are three things to keep in mind.
- Too much information generates disinterest
Over-communication could have negative effect. When the same information, lacking substance, is said multiple times, employees tune out. They become sarcastic. They question the work that goes on behind the scene. When it is time to roll out the change, there is little enthusiasm and support.
- Scanty information begs divisiveness
Keeping things hush-hush could become toxic when employees feel they need to be protective about their work. They don’t want to share knowledge. They are unwilling to help others. They fight for everything they feel is at risk. The company becomes dysfunctional.
- Irrelevance prompts credibility questions
The big question that is closest to heart is the real impact on individuals’ jobs. Employees want to know the approach, who is involved, what is expected of them, and how they will be affected. What is shared needs to go beyond the broad, generic messages. Be upfront with the pending changes and communicate them in a timely manner. Otherwise, those who lead the initiative would lose credibility.
On the other hand, visibility involves building awareness and be heard. There are two important aspects.
- Under the radar implies insignificance
Employees take note when the management team talks about the initiative and reinforces how critical the initiative is to the success of the company. When an initiative has a low profile, employees wonder why they should care about it.
- Lack of representation translates to mistrust
While employees are approached to provide information but no one from their team is involved in developing the new solution, there is a feeling of mistrust. Their visibility on the project is just as important. Though it might not be necessary to have every group represented on the initiative, it is important to let employees know how their views could be raised and heard.
To garner trust from employees during transformational changes is a challenge itself. Companies often do a mediocre job in keeping employees informed. For visibility, employee representation, their visibility on the project, is as important as project visibility.