What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. — Cool Hand Luke
There an old adage in acting: dying is easy; comedy is hard. The same premise can apply to leaders trying to express the need for an organization alignment: talking is easy; communication is hard.
Communication is about more than just saying words. It’s about forming connections that lead to understanding and awareness. Computers communicate efficiently and effectively because there is no interpretation involved; both sender and receiver use the same protocols so it’s apples to apples. But every human comes with their own unique histories, perspectives, biases, insecurities, and experiences so a message sent is interpreted through all those filters and so the words said and the words interpreted can be apples and oranges.
The challenging truth for all leaders: effective organization redesign communication is hard, but it is the key to success, whether for an individual or an organization. Knowing upfront that communication is not always successful and the challenges that presents, gives leaders the opportunity to develop a more thoughtful approach.
The most important aspect of communication is getting your point across so that people understand what it is you want them to do. In organization redesign consistency means reinforcing clearly identified objectives and expectations. If your message is inconsistent because you keep changing what the goal is or why a reorganization is needed, people will be unsure what exactly is expected of them. Consistency enables employees to work through the change journey more effectively.
Increasing the cadence of communication promotes better acceptance. Employees will better understand their roles in an organization design the more they hear it. The reality is human beings—particularly with things like an organizational change—process it through multiple levels. So just hearing the words once doesn’t mean the full import of their meaning immediately sinks in because they need to navigate the team impact, the emotional impact, the personal impact, and the organizational impact of the planned change. The more they hear the consistent message, the more the organization design’s purpose and goals starts to feel routine. The best cadence will change depending on the situation, but communicating early and often is key to a successful implementation.
For a lot of organizations, redesign is more disruptive than it has to be because its strategy and end goals aren’t presented with clarity. Consistency and cadence can make change feel more routine, which reduces the emotional resistance to it and increases acceptance. If a leader communicates what’s going to happen, why it’s happening, and what benefits will come from it early and often, the more easily stakeholders will see it as the new normal.