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
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.