The challenge with change is that communication can be complex. Often communication is hard when things are uncertain or it might make things more uncertain by raising issues. The answer is to communicate early and often.
We often wait to share messages. We want things to be more certain. We want things to be perfect.
There is no way to prepare a perfect communication. Communication is a two-way exercise. You can’t perfect communication without the active participation of the other party. As George Bernard Shaw said:
The greatest issue in communication is the illusion it has taken place.
We are often reticent to share a message of change because there will be initial emotion, difficulties and resistance. Change always gets harder before it gets better. However that difficulty is a critical part of the change process. Questions, pushback and emotions are all part of finding the right change and getting your message across.
Delaying communication because of the initial difficulty is misconceived. The further you progress your change without communication and engagement the bigger the initial pushback will be and the longer it will take to resolve. Worse it is also likely that you are more deeply committed to your change and reluctant to take feedback or listen. I’ve seen too many situations where late engagement lead to a total breakdown in trust. Treat people like adults and engage them early.
Once change has begun people are hungry for information. Gossip, guesswork and assumptions will fill the gaps in understanding. Close up the space for troublemakers with regular communication to build understanding and trust.
If nothing is happening or nothing is changing say that. People do not assume silence is good news. A regular drumbeat of communication will enable people to reflect, build understanding, make suggestions and ask questions.
We can all communicate more about the changes going on in our work and organisations. A culture of Working Out Loud is one approach that help makes this an ongoing dialogue in organisations.