To inspire employees during change, communicate on a human level

During times of change, leaders often feel compelled to get the word – any word – out to employees, sometimes before they know what to say. Although hearing from the top is important, employees will only be confused or tune you out if you rush to communicate. Setting the tone and expectations for content when you communicate about change is crucial, right from the start.

How to start? David Grossman, founder and CEO of The Grossman Group , has an approach that works.  It is based on the premise that all of us, on a human and a professional level, are concerned about a spectrum of things, especially during uncertain times, that mirror Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Fundamentally, we are anxious about what’s happening to me in this situation; then we care about what’s happening in our immediate external environment.  Once we feel comfortable with those two levels, we can move on to care about what it all means for everyone else and the organization; and finally, all other needs satisfied, we can offer ourselves to the situation more altruistically.

So in every piece of communication related to a change situation, David offers these Eight Key Questions™ you can answer for employees, in order:
1. What’s my job?
2. How am I doing?
3. Does anyone care about me?
4. What’s going on?
5. What’s our business strategy?
6. How are we doing?
7. What’s our vision and values?
8. How can I help?

(You Can’t Not Communicate 2 by David Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, 2011)

Even the shortest speeches, memos or videos can answer all eight – that’s where being crystal clear about your message and great writing come into play.  The bottom line: employees do care what’s happening and they want to contribute – you just have to address them where they are, and you can inspire great things!

david book 2

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About Jaya Koilpillai Bohlmann
Global corporate communication, business, and organization behavior executive; author. My blog, DesigningCommunication, offers inspiration, insight, and tips for all professionals who want to express themselves effectively, and lead with integrity.

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