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4 Communication Errors You Should Avoid When Leading a Transformational Change

Communication, so essential and still undervalued by many people believe it or not. I can remember attending a general staff and a departmental meeting when the CEO and manager made an announcement; the company must change its business model to remain relevant.

The CEO explanation for the change was very, very vague; there was no reasoning for the change, and after the meeting, I was quite puzzled and baffled. I can also remember some of my fellow employees confuse as well and asking the following questions:

  • Why the need for the change

  • Where do I fit in

  • Will I lose my job

  • How long will this change take

After carefully analyzing this particular change, I soon realized that management never took communication seriously. Here are 4 communication errors you should avoid when leading change.

Using One Form Of Communication

Any transformational change requires multiple channels of communication in an attempt to drive the change home and to get buy-in from employees. This was a complex change, and employees had many concerns about the changes, and may I add; there was a lack of trust between management and employees, which only magnified the problems even more.

During any transformational change, management must be patient when answering staff concerns and be prepared to explain at lengths why the need for the change and how employees fit into the overall vision of the change. The use of emails, memos, newsletters, intranet, one to one meetings, and social media can be employed to keep staff informed before, during, and after the change. But remember, although communicating the change via multiple communication channels is essential, the message should be endlessly repeated to reinforce the purpose, vision, and how staff will benefit from the change; this is very important.

Not Tailoring The Communication

Apart from continuously repeating the message, the consistency of that message is vitally important. However, effective communications depend partly on knowing who the stakeholders are and how they should be included in communications initiatives, according to Dr. Carol A. Beatty. It would be best if you decided who are the primary stakeholders in this change, who will be most and least impacted by it. When you identify your stakeholders, management needs to tailor their communication to suit their audience and establish that one to one meeting between manager and employees in an attempt to create that effective communication within the company.

Not Using Communication To Drive The Vision Of The Change.

The late great Dr. Myles Munroe said that “vision is the capacity to see further than your eyes can look.” Leaders must recognize that vision is a vital tool that inspires people to believe, but first, they must envision the change and communicate that vision to their staff. John P. Kotter’s 8 step change model, also indicated that a strong vision would help determine the success of a change. According to Kotter, it is vital to communicate the vision frequently and powerfully, so it can act as a deterrent to resistance and use to win the hearts and minds of staff, and generate that positive excitement about the change.

Using Grapevine Communication As A Formal Communication Channel

Informal communication will penetrate your company like a virus and derail the whole process; this must be eliminated, especially in a complex changing environment. Information about the change must be formal; there is no sense emphasizing the consistency of the information when staff has to learn about any new development via the grapevine or talking with someone in the corridor. The leadership of the company must recognize that this is a significant hindrance to the change, and they must lead by example and adopted a formal communication strategy to keep staff continuously inform about the changes.

Communication should never be a dark horse in the race; it should always be the front-runner. Regular communication with staff will provide an essential platform for generating support among employees. It makes employees feel part of the solution, and as such a workforce, that knows all the facts will become much more involved, proactive, and desirous of seeing a different result in the company’s bottom line.


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