If No-One Is Listening, Are You Really Saying Anything?: Why Communication Strategies Rarely Work.
Everyone knows that you need a communication strategy when introducing any large-scale change in an organisation.
If you ask the Senior Executive, they will say that there is a communication strategy in place.
If you ask the Change Project Lead, they will say that there is a communication strategy in place.
If you ask the frontline officers, they will say ‘no-one is telling us anything’.
Why the disconnect?
Most communication strategies focus on persuasion, using logical argument to explain why change is needed and why it will be good for you.
The problem is that persuasion and logical arguments don’t work when people are feeling under threat. Change creates an emotional and psychologically unsafe environment which trigger typical flight, flight or freeze responses. Even if the status quo is not great it certainly ‘feels’ a lot more comfortable then the uncertainly that change brings so it is natural that many officers will feel anything from mildly worried to extreme anxiety about what it about to happen.
Neuroscience shows us that when we feel unsafe our ability to analyse and think logically is significantly impeded.
This fear response can be subtle yet can lead to distrust and resistance. People are not resisting because they are simply stubborn or difficult. They are resisting because your logical arguments are not being heard or processed, therefore they feel like ‘no-one is telling us anything’.
Don’t try to persuade.
Better to focus your communication strategy on informing, inspiring and involving so that you create a safe environment where the normal fight or flight responses can calm down and allow people to process how they feel about change so they can then think about change as being a good thing.
I believe that the best chance of success comes when change is driving from the bottom-up. Changing the perspective and capacity of frontline officers, particularly those in a frontline supervision role, is key to driving cultural reform or organisational change. If you don’t get your frontline leaders on board, you may as well go home.
To this end I will be rolling out my 1-Day workshop in early 2018, that aims to create a positive workplace and inspire change from the bottom-up.
I am really excited about this program as it draws together my experience with change in police organisations and the challenges that many officers have shared with me. This is not your typical boring Powerpoint checklist. This workshop will have you thinking differently about what you can do to create an organisation that you want to work for.
Learn more about my workshop Frontline: Driving Organisation Culture and Change, One Person At A Time
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