Turn and Face the Strange
Maybe it’s because I’m stuck in the eighties (musically, anyway), but I often think of David Bowie. He was such a musical force in my teenage years, and I’m just really sad that he’s gone. Even though it’s almost as old as I am, “Changes” remains one of my favorite Bowie songs. Aside from it just being a phenomenal song, every time I hear it I relate it to some change I’m going through. And vice versa. Often when I’m going through some sort of transition, the “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” refrain runs through my head.
And change today is constant, isn’t it? At last month’s Hood Hargett Breakfast Club event, I had the pleasure of hearing Robbie Bach, Microsoft’s former Xbox king. He spoke about leading change, and that the pace of change is so fast today… and yet things will never change this slowly again. That blew my mind.
The challenge is that people tend to fear change. We resist it. But what we fear is not change itself, it’s the unknown. So the key to successfully getting through the transformational changes we are seeing today is communication. How we prepare our organizations for a change, how we communicate – to ourselves and others – through it, and how we communicate after it. We can change the paradigm of change with three simple strategies.
Be transparent. It’s important no matter your audience or the kind of change you are going through, to be as honest as you can with yourself and others about what that change will mean. And don’t forget to talk about the opportunities, not just the challenges or potential negative impacts. The mystery of it is what makes it scary.
Communicate often through the process. Every change is a process, and it’s important to share updates, even if there is no update. Silence just feeds the fear.
Open two way communication. Give your audiences the chance to share feedback and ask questions. When going through change, it’s more important than ever to keep your finger on the pulse of what people are thinking and feeling. Give them a safe way to share their questions and their fears.
Imagine if we looked at change with excitement, not with fear. What if we changed perspectives to see change not as a dark, strange unknown, but as the light of potential? We can. As communicators, let’s help our employers, our coworkers, our employees – and ourselves – turn and face the strange. And see opportunity.