That old saying, there is no "I" in "Team" is often a "glass is half full" approach to Change Management. Leaders will often look communicators and project managers and say, there is no "we" either! Their resistance to change and deploying change is almost always the reason that change fails. It shouldn't and doesn't have to be that way.
Sponsorship is critical to ensuring change management success. No leader wants to deliver unpopular or uncomfortable news. That's just a fact. But leadership is about doing the good, the bad, and the ugly especially when it comes to change. The best way to begin to implement change is to communicate the leadership vision of the change through various channels at multiple levels. Send a message from the president and have that message reiterated by managers in face-to-face team meetings. This sets the groundwork for the change and a precedent for expectations for future communications.
In John Kotter’s book, Leading Change, he shares an important insight into change communications with one simple statement, “Behavior from important people that is inconsistent with the vision overwhelms other forms of communication.” Leadership by example can be very bad or very good. If a project team sets a vision for a change that is strongly worded about the future of the organization and not one leader reiterates that message, but instead avoids talking about what’s to come, the message is clear. They don’t believe it and won’t endorse the change. This sets into motion doubt and misunderstanding before you even get to the actual change.
As a communicator, be ready to push your leaders to be change agents. They are the catalyst to making change happen and without them, the change will not be successful. There is so much more that communicators can help their organization achieve when they understand the impacts and opportunities that applying change management can have. A great opportunity to learn more is at the October IABC Luncheon on Change Management Communications presented by Ann Steel, Houston Change Management Consultant. Register today and don’t miss this opportunity to strengthen your communications skills.