Tag Archives | Change Management

Effective Leaders Ask 3 Questions to Get Results

“Vision without action is just a daydream. Action without vision creates chaos. But leaders who connect vision to the right actions can change the world.” Adapted from a Japanese proverb.

Part 2 of When You Speak, Do Employees Listen and Take Action? 

Elizabeth and her team knew that if they were to create the organizational changes their customers demanded, they needed to connect with employees on all three levels by asking these questions:

  1. What do we want people to understand? This is the intellectual level of leadership communication, the plan to ensure employees understand what needs to happen, why it needs to happen, what is expected of them—and when.
  2. What do we want people to feel? This is the emotional level, the experiences that inspire people to make a personal contribution.
  3. What do we want people to do? This is the practical level to disrupt status quo and ensure that the right systems and processes are in place so people can take action to achieve the results you want.

The team decided to launch their change initiative at an all-employee meeting. When Elizabeth kicked off the meeting, she didn’t put up any charts or figures. She just went to the front of the room, smiled, and thanked everyone for coming.

“How many of you have heard that our customers are not happy with our products and services?” Some people nodded, some shifted in their chairs, and others just looked surprised. “Well, it’s true. Listen.”

A woman and two men joined her in the front of the room. Each represented one of the company’s three most important customers.

One of the men stepped up to the microphone. “Hello. I’m sorry to say it, but I’m here to tell you that Obitron really sucks.”*

The woman stepped up to the microphone next and said, “Not only are you no longer our first choice, you’re not even our second or third.”

And the third man stood up and said, “What’s going on with you guys these days? You used to be the best show in town.”

People sat straight up in their chairs and listened. When the customers were through describing their perspectives, Elizabeth and her leaders broke everyone into groups so that they could begin to define next steps. After the meeting, employees not only understood on a macro level what needed to happen, each committed to making a personal contribution.

The meeting was just the beginning. Elizabeth and her team prepared an entire series of information and events to unleash the collective power within their department. Working with all employees, they identified the details, the timing, and how they would measure–and celebrate–success. Because everyone understood how she or he could personally make a difference, the changes happened more quickly in Elizabeth’s department than anywhere else in the organization.

Change is a process—not an event. Leaders who know how to connect on all levels of communication are the leaders who create and maintain successful change initiatives.

If you are interested, please contact me for a copy of C3—The Three Levels of Leadership Communication™ model.

Also, don’t forget to download your free eBook (see side bar):  Accelerate Organizational Change:  5 Tips to transform employee disinterest, doubt, and fear into buy-in, engagement, and action.

*Obitron is a fictitious company. Any resemblance to an actual business is purely coincidental.

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When You Speak, Do Employees Listen and Take Action?

Employees who don't listen

Part 1:  Take 3 steps to gain employee buy-in, engagement, and action

The company was bleeding out of every orifice. If they were to survive, it was imperative that every employee understood they could no longer do business as they’d been doing it for so many years. Customers were not happy with the products they manufactured or the services they provided.

Things had to change. Fast.

This is the story of Sarah, Joe, Greg, and Elizabeth. Only one of these department leaders captured attention, gained buy-in, and motivated employees to listen and take action. Only one leader got results.

Too many facts and figures. Sara met with the leaders in her department. She went over dozens of charts and graphs. She talked through every bullet point, describing what wasn’t working and why. She knew her data was compelling. And, her leaders faithfully presented every chart to their direct reports. The results? A growing fear among some employees that they may be laid off and a belief among others that management was over-reacting. Productivity slowed down.

All jazzed up and nowhere to go. Steve held a special meeting that included every employee in his department. He was a charismatic, inspiring speaker, and to a person every employee committed to go back and figure out how to make things better. But when they returned to their jobs, employees were frustrated because they didn’t know what to do. So some just did what they’d always done, while others tried new things. Chaos, confusion, and frustration multiplied.

Process in a vacuum is not enough. Greg called a meeting with his Six Sigma Black Belt, and together they decided to define, implement, and measure new processes that would improve a host of current issues. They held meetings, lots of meetings, with department leaders and employees. Processes changed, and although a few employees resisted, some improvement occurred. But it wasn’t enough.

Communicate on three levels for consistent results. Elizabeth met with her department leaders, and they worked to create an integrated plan, involving three steps. They knew they needed to communicate on the:

  1. Intellectual level to ensure that employees understood the rationale behind the need to change.
  2. Emotional level to create buy-in and inspire employees to take action.
  3. Practical level so that all employees knew how they could make a difference to the organization’s success.

Elizabeth understood the importance of connecting on all three levels to make lasting, measurable behavior and process changes. Find out what she said and did on June 19 in the next Communicate with Moxie blog:  Effective Leaders Ask 3 Questions to Get Results.

Don’t forget to download your free eBook (see side bar):  Accelerate Organizational Change:  5 tips to transform employee disinterest, doubt, and fear into buy-in, engagement, and action.

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