15 Mar Communicating The Vision
Kotter’s Change Management Model: Communicating the Vision
This is the fourth step in my series on Kotter’s Change Management model. The previous step was forming the vision. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start communicating that vision to anyone that needs to know. This can include shareholders, stakeholders, referrers and perhaps even suppliers.
You may be fired up and excited to let the world know your fully formed plan but take a short pause before you march ahead. The way you go about communicating your vision is going to be an integral part of its success. After all, you want buy-in and commitment from the people who are going to help you bring it to life.
What do you want from the announcement?
This may sound a crazy question but it’s good to understand what level of feedback you want from communicating your vision. Is your vision a done deal and you merely need to tell people what’s going on? This can happen in the case where you need to move quickly. Or there is some secrecy, like a buy-out. If so, gird your loans and prepare for some possible kick-back if people aren’t able to contribute. Sometimes, it’s just not possible and you need to take the flack.
Or perhaps you’ve created a semi-formed vision. You now want feedback, suggestions and thoughts from people who may be on the shop floor more than you. This can be valued by all. However, be aware that you may get conflicting suggestions, advice, or even pick up on some fear that people may have. Fear is a common part of change. But it can make us thing negatively and you need to be aware this could impact upon your own thinking. Perhaps your plan is pretty much ready to go, but you value thoughts and suggestions into how to put it into practice. Setting up appropriate channels for this before the announcement makes sense.
The Big Reveal
Think about how you usually make announcements in your company culture. Is this done by email, informal staff meetings or a formal process? What’s appropriate here? The usual process or something to draw attention to how important this really is?
Do be prepared for almost anything to be raised in objection. Even things like worrying whether they will be able to use the lunch room while the office is undergoing a major refit will bother some people. It’s tempting to wave these small concerns aside in the wake of something bigger and better, but it’s wise to be openly emphatic to people’s issues and concerns. This is, after all where they spend a large part of their lives.
Reassure, if you need to, on job loss, office moves, desk moves and work loads. If you can’t, be open about it without scaring people. Then go on to update them as you are able. I’m concentrating on the negative here, but if the reaction is positive, it speaks for itself.
Something that really helps to create a more positive reaction is to explain the why before the vision. You may have done this already in step one, creating a sense of urgency, but even if you have, it’s good to remind people why these change are necessary and what will happen if they are not made.
If you’re a solopreneur, it is also worth considering who else needs to know about your vision. Your family that support you? Friends who might have to be a bit more understanding while you are making the big push? Your coach? Connections who can find you referrals for the new path?
The Psychology of Going Public
This can act as a great motivator, ensuring you live up to what you’ve set out. Occasionally, however, it can backfire, especially if you are carrying the burden of pushing things forward alone. Being so brazen and open about it may open you up to feelings of panic and the extra stress of having to live up to your words. Consider whether it would be more appropriate to move things on quietly until you’re happy you are on track and can announce it with more confidence. Think about what serves the way you work best.
This is also the point where coaches like me can keep you on the right path and deal with any issues that come up.
Keeping on track is difficult. Chaos theory suggests that even a tiny tweak to the plan can cause you to be way off mark further down the line. And, of course, there are always those bolts from the blue (illness, stock prices fall) that can send you way off into the distance. It makes sense to review your plan and tweak actions and tactics as necessary, keeping the end vision in mind.
Don’t let Go
It’s important that you don’t think that creating the vision is your part of the operation and that you can sit back and let people get on with it. As a leader you, and your guiding coalition need to do just that. Lead and guide.