Why do leaders often fail to see the actual reason that corporate initiatives either succeed or fail, specifically in change management efforts? If you ask them, they will likely say that they just followed the facts. The facts pointed them in a direction that suggested the right result would ensue.
Unfortunately, in change, facts do not tell the whole story.
In a change environment, the telltale signs that illuminate shifts in behavior can be found in the nuance of relationships and activities. While the facts may indicate that you have communicated effectively, the reality may tell a completely different story. Why? Misinterpretation of signals. Focus on optics over action. Lack of focus. Little sense of urgency.
All of these can be masked by facts leading to the wrong conclusion. While facts are important, it’s much better to pay attention to and look for the following:
Questions: What type of questions are employees asking? This is a great indicator for how engaged and informed they are.
Connections: Who are employees looking to and working with? This provides a clue in how they are interpreting and operating against a change effort.
Attitudes: Are people’s attitudes different – either positive or negative – regarding the business or initiative?
Language: What words or phrases are being used in the organization that reflect its direction?
Purpose: How people find purpose in their lives and in their work is a barometer for performance and comprehension of strategy.
Facts are utilized to achieve a number of things in business not the least of which is to clarify uncertainty. But paying attention to the areas above provides a more agile and steerable resilience to change, informing communications to take a proactive approach. It gives you a point of view about the things that may not be clear yet, such as how people are assimilating the need to rethink the business.
Becoming a resilient organization able to withstand the vagaries of an ever-shifting mosaic is forcing leaders to change entire business models, transforming customers, financial and operational goals. Being astute about employee patterns and belief systems creates new opportunities for engagement and education. Coupled with data and insight, exploring and interpreting organizational rhythms of daily practices illuminates the root cause of dysfunction opening up new possibilities for change.
Change management is ultimately about creating new core competencies both as a business and as individuals.
Finding and leveraging people’s ability to adopt new skills, new thinking, and new behaviors can be found in the cracks so to speak, giving leaders and communicators the nuggets necessary to move forward.