This is the second of a two-part series on managing transitions by principal consultant Marty Jordan. Click here to get caught up.—Ed.
Organizations in general are typically so-so at communication when things are relatively stable, and top-down communication can often be worse during times of change and transition. Unfortunately, the paradox here is that nothing can be more critical during times of change and transition (mergers and acquisitions, re-orgs, rapidly changing markets, and layoffs, etc.) than effective communication. And while effective communication across the board is always critical, research has found that the communication that matters the most to employees in times of change is the communication they receive from their managers.
According to William Bridges’ influential book Managing Transitions, one of the best ways managers can effectively deal with the normal anxiety that’s brought on by change, as well as improve productivity and even accelerate the transition process of their employees is to thoroughly explain “The Four Ps,” which are:
Purpose: Why are we doing this? What problem are we solving? What are we trying to accomplish? People often need to understand the logic of a change before they can change.
Picture: What is the end game? How is it going to work? What is changing and what isn’t? People often need to imagine what the change will look like before they can give their hearts to it.
Plan: What is the road map for getting to where we need to go? What is going to happen over the next X months? What happens first, second, third? People need a clear idea of how they are going to get to where they need to go.
Part: What is my role? How will I be involved? Do I have an opportunity for input into the plan? When will I be trained? People need a tangible way to contribute.
By providing information about the four Ps in all your communications, you’ll help your team understand why the change is necessary, what it looks like, how you’re all going to get there, and how they fit in. Keep in mind that during times of transition, your communication isn’t just about sharing information. It’s also about how you use your communication to connect with your employees, let them know you care and build their commitment to the change.
Change can often be scary. What tips have helped you successfully navigate change? Please share your insights in the comments section.
Marty Jordan is a Principal Consultant and co-leader of Linkage’s Change and Transition Leadership practice. She is an accomplished HR/OD professional with broad-based experience in multiple industries and has worked in diverse business functions and corporate environments. In her current role, Marty is a coach, facilitator, and program designer for a wide spectrum of clients including Toyota, Volkswagen, Disney, and Genentech. Follow her on Twitter @maj421.