Boris Jumping Off Cliff, Prince Phillips Steps...Image by maveric2003 via Flickr

Not everyone in a company hears the same thing at the same time.

Everyone hasn’t gone to the same meetings, had the same hallway conversations, seen the same PowerPoint decks, read the same emails, or had the same amount of time to digest the information.

This impacts change initiatives, including “restructuring efforts”, in several ways.

We can’t expect people to understand actions for which they have no context.

We can’t get frustrated when someone asks us questions about something we feel pressured to accomplish quickly.  We certainly can't get defensive.

We can’t keep information about changes from the people they impact and then expect them to jump off a cliff with us with confidence in the depth of the waters below – especially when, if we're honest, we don't know how deep they are either.

Times are tough and there are difficult decisions to be made, but people can support decisions they understand, and to which they've had some input, even when they don't like them.

When you've been included early in the communication chain, and understand the context of the message, it’s hard to be patient with those just hearing about it.

What can we do?

Include people at different stages of the thought process to properly assess the impact of the change, worry about accuracy more than secrecy.

When it comes time to spread the word more broadly, take a deep breath and remember the thought that went into defining the action. 

Remember what you know and the process your team went through to come the decision, and try to give your colleagues, audience, staff, the context they need to understand the change in front of them.

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