Right now it's spring here in Sydney. It's such a glorious time. I just love it. It's all about growth and renewal, and it reminds me of something that Jim Rohn once said that really struck a chord with me. Jim Rohn is a business philosopher for whom I have the greatest amount of respect.
Jim said this, he said that everyone or every business must get good at one of two things, either planting in the spring or begging in the autumn, because Jim likens the cycles of life and business to the four seasons. He says that the first major consideration is how to handle the difficulties of winter so that we're not begging in the autumn.
There are all kinds of winters in business. There are low productivity winters, new competitor winters, declining moral winters, reputational damage winters. Jim advises that we must learn how to handle the difficulties of winters because winter always comes after opportunity. That's never going to change.
But like the cycle of the seasons, spring always follows winter. That's the season when we must combat the discontent of winter by sowing the seeds of whatever we wish to harvest in the autumn. In business, the spring cycle is when we sow the seeds of communicating change to employees and combat the difficulties of winter.
Like me, you've probably witnessed or perhaps you've even been part of the huge amount of time and effort that is invested in sowing the seeds of change to employees in organizations. Perhaps the seed of change was a new tactic to stop a competitor from eroding your customer base. Perhaps change was a restructure to make the organization more responsive to fast changing customer leads.
Have you, like me, witnessed many change programs failing to deliver the desired intended benefits? Because there's a fundamental truth in organizational change that I believe is largely overlooked, and once again, it's another piece of wisdom from Jim. He says this, he says a key tactic to reaping a bountiful crop in autumn is to nourish and protect your crops all summer. I.e. to engage employees in change all summer.
Every garden must be tended all summer to reap a harvest in autumn, because as soon as you've planted the seeds, the busy bugs and the noxious weeds are out to take over. If there's one thing for certain, says Jim, it's that all good will be attacked. In an organizational context, we know that all the good intentions of a change program will be attacked by old ways of doing things, by inertia, by vested interests, and by ego.
Effective communication to engage employees in change programs is your greatest line of defense in protecting your organization from the busy bugs and the noxious weeds. This means that communication efforts should not be focused solely on the planting stages of the change program, a time when most effort is deployed. Rather there needs to be a communication plan for the growth phase during summer to ensure that you engage employees in change programs over a longer period and therefore reap what you want to or what you desire to in the autumn.
Now, a reason I often hear as to why time is not invested in developing a communication plan for the post-startup phase of change is that change communication strategies take too long to do. Now, that's a frustration that I shared for many years. But after I've seen too many change programs wither and die during the heat of summer, I decided I have to do something about it.
So, I developed a one-page communication framework or tool for protecting and defending change programs to ensure maximum growth during the critical summer months (meaning fully engaging employees in change programs). Jim Rohn says "it's not what happens to you that determines your future it's what you do about it. It's the tactics you take in planning communications to cultivate and engage employees in your change program during the heat of summer that determines what your organization reaps in the autumn.
That's my tactic for this Tuesday. Implement communication tactics for the summer growth phase of change, to ensure you engage employees in change programs on an ongoing basis and therefore reap a bountiful crop in the autumn. Now, what do you think? In your experience, is the lack of a communication plan for the summer phase of communicating change to employees one of the factors contributing to the fact that 70% of change programs fail to engage employees in change programs and fail to deliver the intended benefits? Well, I look forward to seeing you again soon. Until then, happy communicating.
Related resource : 10 Tips for Communicating Change to Employees
Lorri Lennon is an award-winning advisor, trainer and author in leadership communication. She has 20 years’ experience managing communications for large global organisations.
Lorri conducts master classes to help participants maximise their communications ROI.
Mariska Mannes is an experienced communication consultant. She holds a Master of Management majoring in Communication, which allows her to bring a blend of qualification and practical experiences to her training programmes. Her expertise is in business and cross cultural communication and behaviour. For more information visit Mariska's LinkedIn profile.