Communicate More When You're Communicating Change

How do you keep people moving forward with change, week after week? And while it’s one thing to acknowledge the fact that organizations must constantly change, how do you get the people actually doing the work comfortable with constant change? We usually have a step-by-step guide for you, but today we’re giving you one simple rule: think dolphins, not whales.

Dolphins can only take in a small amount of air, and as a result, surface frequently. Whales, on the other hand, can take in large amounts of air, and therefore stay submerged for longer periods of time. (Fun biology facts: dolphins tend to stay underwater for 15 to 20 minutes, whereas a sperm whale can hold its breath for up to 90.) David Feeny, Emeritus Professor of Information Management at Oxford, uses this metaphor to illustrate how to communicate about organizational change: it’s better to pop your head up frequently to talk about a little change, rather than trying to make a big splash (!) all at once, and then disappearing back into the depths.

What this means in practice is: make change a habit. Acknowledge people when they do adopt a new routine. Celebrate the small wins on a regular basis. And during your 1:1s, (which you are holding regularly, right?) ask people how they feel they are dealing with change, and discuss ways they can get more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

 
 

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