Cyber Management Tip Delivering a Tough Message

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Even in the best of times, change can be stressful — and these have hardly been the best of times.  If you are faced with announcing a less than welcome change, how you position the message dramatically will influence how your sales team feels about it. Use these ideas to help you and your team deal with and move forward with the change:

Prepare Your Communication Strategy:  Where and When

  • Carefully consider timing and impact.
  • Avoid waiting too long or the rumor mill will create its own (worse) message.
  • Deliver the message, face-to-face to people impacted whenever possible.
  • Decide one-on-one or team.
  • Be strategic and if there are a few people in your “inner circle” who you can count on for support, approach them one-on-one before you deliver the message to the full group to gain their commitment to back you up.

Be Ready When You Deliver the Message

  • Prepare the message you want to communicate to ensure you are clear and concise.
  • Be prepared with facts, information, and timelines.
  • Choose your words carefully.
  • Think about your audience.  In a change situation, the first question on people’s minds is:  How is this going to affect me?
  • Structure the message so people are able to hear it and comprehend what it means.
  • Start by selling the need for change, not by describing the change.  Starting with the why will help you get buy-in.
  • Position the strategic importance and whatever benefits of the change.

Describe the change:

  • What will change?
  • What will remain the same?
  • Reinforce the benefits of the change.
  • Discuss what it means to those impacted and what support will be given to them.
  • Ask for questions/concerns to uncover resistance and fears around the change:  What are your questions or concerns about the impact this might have on the company? On you?
  • Be prepared to address questions and keep the focus on what is in it for them as well as the big picture.
  • Be patient, empathic.
  • Clarify broad questions before answering.
  • Avoid being defensive.
  • Discuss where in the process you will need your team’s support.  Ask for their support.
  • Express your support.

Project a Positive Attitude
Your attitude about the change is contagious.  Your team is looking to you to tell them how to respond.  Be empathic, strong, supportive, clear, and encouraging.

© 2011 L. Richardson

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