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Gain employee buy-in for upheaval

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If you think your organization undergoes constant change, you’re not alone. About 60% of executives say they’ve faced a redesign in the past two years, according to McKinsey.

Change in itself doesn’t lead to success, as 70% of reorganizations fail. A common culprit is weak communication from the top.

Employees must view you as authentic and credible. CEOs who read from a script and speak in a flat monotone rarely inspire confidence.

At the same time, tap multiple communication channels. It’s fine to write a companywide email laying out the details of the change. But don’t stop there: Host informal meetings where you can answer employees’ questions.

In earlier years, leaders who sought to gain buy-in from their team would provide training to help them handle change and perhaps hire a motivational speaker to give a pep talk.

A smarter strategy involves building trust with employees so that they see the need for change. That requires consistently clear, empathetic communication, starting from the initial announcement of the change through every subsequent phase of the process.

Better yet, leaders should tie the rationale for the change to their larger vision for the organization. If employees see how upheaval complements the vision or mission that the CEO has articulated repeatedly in the past, they’re more apt to accept it.

—Adapted from “Engaging change through effective communication,” Arwen Evans, www.odwyerpr.com.

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