The competitive marketplace exposes businesses to the risk of irrelevance if they choose to stay attached to the status quo. From enhancement of product offerings to digitalization of the operations model, these transformations demand significant investment. Transformation is hard work. Businesses experience varying levels of success.
To facilitate smooth execution, influential communication can help to rally support and expedite the transition. There are three areas you can work on.
- Establish a coherent motivation for the transformation
Though it is trivial to develop a clear message highlighting the need and goals that cultivate a sense of urgency, many leaders overlook the essence of appealing to self-motivation. The high level message paints a general picture. For those who don’t understand the end game, they are skeptical. Hence, the communication ought to be specific enough to address the ‘what is in it for me’ question for individuals. This means managers and team leaders need to take the high level message and incorporate coherent, pertinent information for their respective teams. This includes defined changes and impacts on the employees affected. Provide as much details are you are able. It is particularly important when multiple transformation initiatives are underway. Disparate messages not only create confusion, they generate an image of poor management and damper trust.
- Provide poignant progress reports directly and indirectly
Regular progress reports are necessary to keep everyone abreast of the advancement. These updates are generally part of the communication plan and are provided by the initiative sponsor, project manager, or team leader. They include milestones accomplished, issues and their resolution, and pending changes. In addition, you want to supplement these ‘direct’ progress updates, normally carried out as top-down, with indirect conversations. The indirect conversations are carried out by peers. As part of the team selection for the transformation initiative, second respected influencers to be on the project team. When these influencers share project information with their peers, employees are more receptive and trusting. What is important to note here is that the influencers must be evangelists of the transformation so that they also act as ambassadors of change adoption.
- Operationalize the target behaviors
Apart from having a strong training program to build the new capabilities required to support the new state, it is just as important to ensure that change will sustain. If there is a need to rewrite job descriptions, do so. If there is a need to restructure workflow across functions, be mindful of the ripple effects. To avoid backsliding, you need to include clear expectations from individuals and incorporate them in their performance reviews. Doing so is a way to hold employees accountable for the new behaviors. That places the onus on them to do their best in taking the leap. This sets a goal post for those impacted. Taking this further, you can establish a baseline and a target performance. It is a great way to monitor the results realized from the transformation and validate the return on investment.
The above covers the necessary communication and reinforcement for different phases of a transformation initiative. It requires a more thorough and specific communication plan. Execution succeeds when activities aim cohesively for the same outcome, making results delivery more effective and efficient.