Saturday, April 19, 2008

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication is the key to successfully implementing change in your company’s policies and procedures. This was the message I took home from a recent seminar, "Implementing Lean in Administration/Office areas." In order to be successful, change must be communicated properly. It is a basic tenant of human nature to process under communicated change in the following manner:

1. Change is Discovered
2. Confusion & Rumors Ensue (Employees speculate; lean accounting sounds like layoffs. They begin wasting time developing lists of who they think should be laid off).
3. Fear Spreads
4. Resistance Generated
5. Resentment Develops
6. Interest Begins
7. Enthusiasm
8. Excitement

According to the presenter, if change is communicated properly, employees will go straight from step one when the change is communicated to step six where interest develops, skipping steps 2 through 5.

I was reminded of the importance of communication when our Human Resource Manager began a project to create job descriptions for all our employees this week. To kick off this project, she emailed a select group of employees requesting that they create a job description for their position. She gave them a two day deadline, and provided a sample format. She did not give them a reason as to why she was undertaking this project. Immediately, they were confused and fearful. Who could blame them, the media has bombarded us with talk of recession and our company’s sales have been lower than normal. With lighter work loads they assumed they were assigned this task because their job was in jeopardy. Every one of them resisted this project. Ms. HR Manager came to me complaining about our employees attitudes. I relayed my seminar's communication recommendation from above and suggested that she hadn’t explained her project clearly. She mulled my suggestion over for a couple seconds, decided that wasn’t the case stating our employees just couldn’t deal with change.

I disagree, ultimately she had to sit down with each employee, explain the purpose of her project; having a job description is a good business practice plus creating them was one of the tasks she was hired to do. She then had to convince them that by creating a job description they would not be putting their job in jeopardy and in many cases they would find the process beneficial. Only then did they enthusiastically complete the task.

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