Most definitions for catalyst describe a chemical reaction, but it also means “a person or thing that precipitates an event or change”. A leader not only has to suggest changes to move an organization forward, but also has to have a solid plan to not only execute these changes, but to communicate them effectively so that everyone knows what is expected of them. Unfortunately, many leaders are not the best communicators so when the message is not delivered concisely, fear and anxiety build amongst staff members. This causes undo suffering which affects productivity and morale.
The communications piece should be concise because a wordy document will not be read in its entirety by most people. It should also be easy to read with bullets and some white space so that the key points stand out to the reader. Using superfluous words will only add to the confusion so consider creating messaging that a high school student would understand. Keep sentences short and where possible, add metrics. Explain what the impact will be when the change(s) occur and what the ramifications will be if the change(s) are not implemented.
With the amount of information that everyone is bombarded with each day, it will be necessary to send out multiple communications and in different forms such as email, webinar, Twitter, and written. Keep in mind that people disseminate information differently so clarifications may be necessary in future messaging.
The leader should also be viewed as the chief advocate and spokesperson. Many times the communications piece comes from human resources, communications, or some other department, and the importance of the change loses impact and validity. The leader should be as forthcoming as possible, appear honest in terms of how it may negatively affect some (i.e. layoffs), and be willing to address concerns as they arise. Some leaders will handle the initial announcement but are never heard from again. By delegating this effort to others, it shows a lack of commitment by the leader to the organization and again adds to the stress that the organization is feeling.
Think back to a time when you had to deliver information to your department or the whole company. What are two ways you could have communicated your message differently? Did you provide a way for others to raise concerns with you? Did you provide follow up messaging to keep the organization abreast of the progress?
Other “C” words to ponder – confidence, capable, conflict, clarity, commitment, cohesiveness, and collaborate.