“There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
Many attempts at organizational change either flounder or fail outright, and often the culprit is a lack of effective communication. In the absence of clear communication from leadership, rumors and speculation begin to take on a life of their own, usually to the detriment of the organization and the performance of its employees.
“Withholding information during the phases of radical change could easily be one of the worst mistakes in managing changes,” notes Rita Linjuan Men, Ph.D., APR, an assistant professor of public relations at the University of Florida and research editor for the Institute for Public Relations’ Organizational Communication Research Center.
Ad agency PR can lead the charge on behalf of clients undergoing change by:
- Filling gaps with knowledge
- Negating rumors with truth
- Communicating clearly, effectively and transparently
- Initiating and responding to feedback
- Being sensitive and emphatic not just to what is said, but also how the message is conveyed
To work as intended, the process has to be more than just delivering information.
“Leaders must see communication as a dialogue. When employees feel they’re being relentlessly sold a message, they tend to resist. Who wouldn’t? But dialogue is different; being listened to is powerful and long lasting. It builds influence over time, driving adoption and alignment,” says Sherry Scott, president of Gagen McDonald, a consulting firm that specializes engagement, leadership and culture change.
Another way public relations specialists can help clients manage change is by mining data to unlock perceptions, preferences and concerns—giving clients a better understanding of their customers, stakeholders, prospects and other important groups.
PR can be especially useful during periods of change when it comes to creating an effective communications strategy; crafting appropriate messages; anticipating questions and concerns; and identifying the best methods of reaching the target audiences.
Timeliness is critical, which is where PR shines brightest. Whether connecting with a reporter on deadline, responding to an irate customer using social media to vent his or her displeasure, dialoguing with concerned stakeholders or dealing with an actual or impending crisis, reacting responsibly with speed and transparency has long been a forte of the PR profession.
Navigating change can be a daunting task for companies, but having clear two-way communication throughout the process will greatly improve the odds for success.
photo credit: symphony of love Author Unknown If you are not willing to change, then don’t expect your life to via photopin (license)