Change Management Chapter 11 Communication Skills
Communication Skills • These skills are aimed at involving people and encouraging commitment to the change process • Unitarist (director, coach) vs. pluralist (navigator, interpreter) view • Pluralist – no amount of communication will change a clash of interests • What communication skills does each change image see as critical?
Key Communication Skills • Four key skills for communicating include: • Listening • Telling stories • Selling change upward • Toxic handling
Listening • There are four types of listening skills: • suspending judgment, • identifying assumptions, • listening for learning, and • Reflecting • Reflection exercise • Select a partner • Tell your partner a story about a time you lied or cheated • Justify your lying or cheating • Partner • suspend judgment and practice reflection • Identify the assumptions behind the justification • Share what you learned with your partner • Switch
Telling Stories • This is an effective way of helping employees learn from past changes & painting pictures of the future. • A key interpreter skill • Receives little training or management attention – why? • How can we train people in story telling? • Design an exercise
Selling Change Upward • “Issue selling” is a way of gaining senior management attention to changes initiated from below. • Message, timing, and channel are important • Elevator speech anyone? • Presentation techniques • Link to the logic of the business plan • Raise the proposal continuously • Package the issue incrementally • Bundling • Tie it to: • Profitability, market share, organizational image, or concerns of key stakeholders
Toxic Handling • Some people in organizations take on a role of handling the ill-effects of change processes and absorbing these as a way of shielding others from their negative impact. • Listening empathetically • Suggesting solutions • Working behind the scenes • Carrying the confidences of others • Reframing difficult messages • Have you ever seen a toxic handler in action or been helped by one?
Change Conversations • Different change conversations should be used at different stages of a change process. • Initiative conversations: these draw attention to the need for change. • An assertion, request, or declaration • Conversation for understanding: this communicates the type of changes needed and allows for a greater appreciation of why this type of change. • Specifies conditions of satisfaction • Enables participation and involvement • Confirms the interpretations place on the change
Conversation stages ctd. • Conversations for performance: this focuses on the actual change that is intended and how progress will be monitored. • Promises are made • Obligations are entered into • Accountabilities are established • Deadlines are set • Conversation for closure: this signals the end of the change • Acknowledgments, celebrations, rewards
Conversation stages ctd. • Omitting a stage may cause familiar communication problems in the change process • Such as…? • Issues • Identifying transitions • can they be nonlinear? • Different perceptions of what stage the organization is in • Impact of power imbalances • Can all managers be trained in all stages/skills?
Linguistic Modes & Imagery • Need for a balance of linguistic modes. • Ideals (express preferences), appeals (seek support), rules (seek to control), deals (bargaining) • Over-reliance on one mode leads to problems • Success comes from using different forms at different stages • The use of metaphors influences the images of change. • Need to be “in sync” with the type of change • These change images include: • Machine: this is based on the “fix and maintain” view • Developmental: this is based on the “build and develop” view • Transitional: this is based on the “move and relocate” view • Transformational: this is based on the “liberate and re-create” view
Communication with external stakeholders • Communicating with external stakeholders is an important (albeit often neglected) aspect of communicating change. • Research has focused on: • crisis management • impression management • corporate reputation
Some tactics • Impression management • Excuses, justifications, disclaimers, concealment • Crisis management • Competing accounts, statement of regret, dissociation (scapegoating) • Mortification, corrective action, bolstering image, denial, shifting the blame • What is best practice?
Tyco Case • Imagine you are the new CEO of Tyco (or Enron) • Write a script for your address to the shareholders after 18 months in the position. • Pay attention to the appropriate use of linguistic modes or metaphors in your “change conversation” • Be prepared to role play your script