The Tribe Report 4. The Change Management Issue | Page 12

“We aren’t able to share that information yet, but we can tell you that such and such,” than to say nothing at all. That’s one reason two-way communication is an important element of your channel mix. Whether it’s via your intranet or a microsite or talking face-to-face with someone in If employees have a sneaking suspicion that something management, your employees need a venue for asking big is afoot and they haven’t been told about it, the result questions and voicing concerns. will be a high level of stress in the workplace. You certainly want to avoid having your employees learn the news from Why? Because when you respect someone, you’re willing to someone outside the company. For instance, you don’t want listen to their point of view. them to read about it in the paper or hear about it from a neighbor whose teenager babysits for the CEO. At Tribe, we talk about what we call the “Two Big Fears” of change management. When faced with a major change in the company, employees tend to feel anxiety about two worrisome questions: “Will I lose my job?” and “Will this make my job harder?” We urge clients to address these fears directly. When you shine light on a fear, it tends to lose its power, not unlike turning on the light in the bedroom of a child who is scared of a monster hiding in the dark. It’s human nature to imagine the worst, so setting realistic expectations of what the change could mean, both for the company and individual employees, can be a huge relief to employees. We also counsel clients to use the “Yes But” tool in these situations. Be honest about negative impacts but link them to something positive. For example, when employees ask if the new supply chain process will result in job loss, you might say, “Yes, but only a very small number of employees,” or “Yes, but we are hoping to place many of them in other positions within the company,” or “Yes, but not for at least a year.” Occasionally we see internal communications professionals stymied by top management being insulated from frontline employees. Leadership may assume that since they haven’t heard any employees complain, there’s no negative reaction to the change. Meanwhile, although disgruntled employees aren’t marching into the C-suite to announce their dissatisfaction to the CEO in person, there may be an unaddressed undercurrent of anger in response to the change. 12 | TRIBE REPORT TAKEAWAY The Golden Rule of Change Management: When you’re managing a major change at your company, treat employees the way you’d want to be treated.