A tiny incident occurred on Sunday, which I’d like to share. For me, it shed a sliver of light on the ever-recurring topic of ‘Communicating about Change’.
A very dear friend took me (Life-Long Arsenal supporter) and his Dad (Life-Long Crystal Palace supporter) to his company’s corporate box at the Emirates to watch Arsenal vs Palace. All great fun, with about 12 other chaps.
We were provided with excellent hot dogs at half-time, and my friend, being gluten-intolerant, took a hot dog sausage and left the empty bun on the hot-plate. Over the next ten minutes, I was amazed at how many people were thrown by this – the reaction could be summarised as “Whose bun is this? Does anyone want that bun? How can we be one hot dog short? Has our waitress made a mistake? I don’t understand what’s happening – help!”
Without making too much of a meal of it (apologies – couldn’t resist), what does this tell us about the human condition? That people like their processes clearly mapped out for them? That they don’t like an un-explained change in the pattern? That a change which appears to make no sense leaves them disorientated?
If any of this tale isn’t completely off the planet, how can we apply these little ‘lessons’ to (a) staff and (b) customers? We all need explanations. Our brains are programmed to look for order and patterns in the chaos of the Universe. If we think we’ve figured it out, and somebody changes the pattern without telling us, it can throw us.
Communicating about Change
My bank recently changed the account pages on their website. There used to be a tab saying ‘Manage Your Standing Orders and Direct Debits’. They moved this. It’s now hidden under another tab called ‘More Actions’. It took me several minutes to find it, by which time I was feeling angry, mildly panic-stricken, and wanting to change banks. I may even have used some bad language.
Ever tried telling a member of your team on a Monday morning, that you’ve moved their desk, without asking them first? One word of advice: don’t.
If there’s a change you need to implement in your company or team, and you’d like a (free) objective view on your comms plan, give Kieron a call on 07768 731698.
Meanwhile, please have a look at the page on our site dealing with Leadership Training, Communicating about Change, and Coaching: http://www.randomelements.co.uk/leadership-development/