Søren Friis Larsen

Søren Friis Larsen

Direktør for stakeholder relations
Phone: +45 2972 5257
Email: sfl@mannov.dk

Don’t do this if you want change

Mar 08, 2018 By Søren Friis Larsen
Tags: change communication , forandringskommunikation

3 classic pitfalls of change communication

A constant state of change seems to be the new normal in many industries and businesses. And so it should be with all that is rapidly changing in technology, society, and the market place. Communicating change should be an absolute top priority for most executives. However, the discipline is difficult to master. Here are three typical mistakes to avoid: 

1. Get right to “the how”

You’ve spent months going over the numbers, listening to those expensive consultants, and finally persuading the board of the right strategy. Now it’s time to get to work! The first thing everybody on the floor of your organization hears will be: “Now this is what we are going to do”. The “how” in any change process, obviously, is important. But often even the most seasoned top executives neglect sharing the “why” with everybody first. “Why” is strategy, “how” is execution, right? Wrong. Harvard professor John Kotter in his seminal work “Leading change” emphasizes eight steps in successful change – and the first step is to establish a sense of urgency. Then you recruit a change coalition across the organization. Then you formulate a vision for where the change is going to lead you. His fifths step is communicating this vision. Notice how we haven’t gotten to the details of how the change is going to happen yet? That’s right – change needs to be primed and the time and efforts needed to do so are too often grossly underestimated.

2. Forget about homo economicus

“I don’t know why it didn’t work. We had a plan, everybody nodded, we kept repeating what we wanted”. If this sentiment sounds familiar, maybe somebody in the change process forgot that it’s not all about communication. Words are important, but we must not forget that the organization, employees, and all other stakeholders respond to more than just our words. The respond to the tone of voice, to the body language – even what you don’t say. But very importantly they also respond to behavioral cues as we know well from performance management theories. Too often, companies roll out fancy new strategies communicating bold new visions expecting radical changes in employee behavior, but neglect updating their incentive schemes, or changing what or who is praised in the organization. If you want to improve customer experience for example, then publicly rewarding those who do a fantastic job at just that is far more effective than giving another visionary pep talk town hall meeting in front of a dozing company-wide audience. Rewards can be money, but they can also be new opportunities, more autonomy, or simply honest praise. Without sounding like a Marxist – just be aware that if you don’t change anything in the fundamental “economy” of the organization, but only in the way you talk about things, you shouldn’t expect major behavioral change. Strong change communication can enforce changes in your organization – not replace them.

3. Dance the limbo

Change processes suck up a lot of energy and resources in any complex organization. Managing change often becomes a matter of enforcing a razor-sharp and very exclusive focus on the key changes needed for the project to be successful – at the expense of other projects. That makes sense, but often it can leave a big part of the organization on standby or in a state of limbo. “Interesting project, but it will have to wait, because we need to focus on project Moon-landing” becomes the argument that can put any new idea on the backburner. Again, there is nothing wrong with prioritizing or having a clear, strategic focus. Of course not. But if we want agile organizations and constant development rather than a stop-and-go approach to change, leaders should avoid letting too much of their organization dance the limbo.

Consider how you can include and engage everybody in the organization.
I may just be the receptionist, but what is my role going to be?

Think of the Japanese term “Kaizen”, which is a philosophy of continuous improvement. Pioneered by Toyota, the approach is often used within manufacturing, but in many ways the idea of change as the sum of many small improvements should inspire us far more broadly. How can your change communication be a little more Japanese inspired? Well, try to consider how you can include and engage everybody in the organization. I may just be the receptionist, but what is my role going to be? There is a tipping-point for cultural transformation, something popularized by the influential writer Malcolm Gladwell. The more you get on board, the more influencers enforce the change, and the more it will stick. Also, when looking at change as many little victories, it becomes easier to celebrate progress, something that is also emphasized in Kotter’s change model. Short-term wins are great for moral and the top executive should be an engaging story-teller with an ever-evolving reservoir of anecdotes.

At Mannov, we assist companies with their change communication from devising a strategy to the daily internal communication. We train CEOs to become better at leading change and telling the motivating stories that inspire and keep their organization moving forward.

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Mannov siger farvel til vores jyske PR-nestor

 

Den 30. september 2020 fyldte vores kære og mangeårige kollega og partner Ebbe Kristensen 66 år. Det blev samtidig Ebbes sidste arbejdsdag, da han har valgt nu at hellige sig pensionisttilværelsen – efter mere end 30 år i PR-branchen.

 

Ebbe har været en ledende faktor for Mannovs Aarhus-afdeling siden 1999, hvor han gjorde comeback til Mannov efter nogle år hos bl.a. Schur International, Indbodan og et par andre bureauer. Ebbe begyndte dog hele sin karriere hos netop Mannov, da han tilbage i 1982 – kun syv år efter firmaets grundlæggelse – startede som elev hos Børge Mannov og i løbet af de følgende tre år blev godt udlært i PR ud fra devisen om ”Alle har ret til en advokat ved den domstol, der hedder den offentlige debat”.

 

Samlet set er det blevet til mere end 23 år i Mannov og over 30 år i bureaubranchen for Ebbe. På nogle områder er der sket en afsindig udvikling siden 90’erne – vi sender fx ikke længere pressemeddelelser ud pr. fax (hvilket ellers dengang var et vildt teknologisk kvantespring fra den traditionelle postomdeling J). Men når det kommer til selve essensen i PR, så er grundtankerne ifølge Ebbe stadig de samme: ”Etablering, opretholdelse og udvikling af relationer med en organisations vigtigste in- og eksterne interessenter. Det er, hvad PR dybest set handler om. Og hvad der også gælder ikke mindst i dag, hvor normer og paradigmer ændres, og hvor virksomheder kan komme ud i kriser lynhurtigt i takt med medieudviklingen og ikke mindst her i den nye ”udskamningstid””.

 

Men nu er det slut med PR-værktøjerne i arbejdsøjemed for Ebbes vedkommende. Fremover vil Ebbe koncentrere sine kræfter om at nyde pensionisttilværelsen sammen med sin søde hustru Inge. Det under vi ham selvfølgelig fuldt ud – men vi kommer til at savne ”den gamle jyde” med de mange jyske favorithold (Ebbe er tilsyneladende glad for alle jyske fodboldhold, der slår københavner-holdene). Gennem årene har Ebbe været en enorm kapacitet for både Mannovs kunder og os som kollegaer. Han har prøvet lidt af hvert inden for kommunikationsbranchen, hvilket har gjort ham til den dygtige og skarpe generalist, han er i dag – med en særlig forkærlighed for fødevare-, medicinal- og miljøområdet, der altid har ligget Ebbes hjerte nær, og hvor han gennem tiden har skabt mange virkelig flotte resultater for Mannovs kunder.

 

I Mannov har vi altid haft en meget speciel og familiær kultur. Mange taler om den særlige ’Mannov-ånd’ – både blandt kunder og medarbejdere, nuværende som tidligere. Derfor satser vi også på, at vi fortsat kommer til at få glæde af Ebbes gode selskab og spændende anekdoter og betragtninger om bl.a. fodbold, vin og verden. Om vi er enige – særligt om synspunkterne inden for fodbold – tør vi ikke garantere. Men det bliver helt sikkert en hyggelig snak.

 

Vi ønsker Ebbe (og Inge) alt det bedste fremover – og glæder os til at høre nyt om stort og småt fra livet som pensionist i både Gl. Rye og Sydfrankrig. 

 

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Et kæmpe og hjerteligt tillykke til vores jyske PR-nestor Ebbe, der fyldte 66 år den 30. september. Dagen var samtidig Ebbes sidste arbejdsdag, da han nu helliger sig tilværelsen som pensionist sammen med sin kære hustru Inge. De vil helt sikkert komme til at nyde livet i både Gl. Rye og Sydfrankrig –  vi ønsker både Ebbe og Inge alt det bedste fremover og håber, at de fortsat vil lægge vejen forbi Mannov, når de er på den østlige side af broen.