Making transformation child's play

"When will we be there?" "Is it still far?" "I don't like it anymore!" - When travelling, children say exactly what many employees think when it comes to transformation projects.

However, these supposedly simple questions are rarely actually asked in organisations. Even more rarely are there comprehensible answers to them - and thus a valuable opportunity is missed.

A culture of openness is a stroke of luck for the organisation!

When employees ask seemingly trivial questions, it shows a genuine interest in the change. The confidence to ask these questions speaks for a culture of openness, which should definitely be encouraged.

It is also a good exercise for management to develop simple answers to questions about transformation - to paraphrase Albert Einstein: "If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself."

This also requires the courage to be transparent if you don't have a quick answer to a few simple questions. Admitting ignorance opens up important room for manoeuvre for everyone involved. Nevertheless, please take the delivery seriously!

Investing time in preparation pays off

It is worth investing sufficient time. This allows you to assess the most common questions and develop good, simple answers to present at an all-hands meeting or as a discussion aid for transformation managers.

This preparation offers three key advantages:

  • Achieve credibility through consistency:If everyone is saying the same thing, then there must be something to it. It may not be quite so trivial, but the reverse is usually true: if management provides different answers to the same question, this spreads uncertainty and destroys trust in the management team. Nobody wants to sit in an aeroplane where the pilot and co-pilot are planning different flight routes.
  • Avoid distortion of perception ("curse of knowledge"):Before the transformation is communicated to all employees, individual clever minds often spend weeks developing the underlying approach and process - a deep familiarisation with constant exchange among each other. However, this reduces the ability to empathise with less informed colleagues. However, if the team commits to dealing with the simple questions of transformation from the outset, everyone remains involved.
  • Picking up the pace of the organisation:While management and transformation teams deal with change for a long time, the topic often catches employees unprepared. It becomes difficult if there is also the expectation that they need to know about everything straight away. Many then feel left behind and lose motivation and interest. However, if you signal your willingness to provide simple answers - or even better, if you explicitly ask simple questions - you can get everyone on board and increase the pace of transformation.


The fundamental questions

The challenge is to recognise the important, fundamental questions. Is the timing decisive? Or the required labour input of the individuals? Is it about new role allocations or rather new processes?

Once the questions and corresponding answers have been found, it pays to pay particular attention to the "how" of communication. It makes a big difference whether the questions are listed in Q&A format in the company newsletter or answered as a video message from the CEO or transformation manager. Describing change metaphorically is a very popular and helpful tool. However, it is important to avoid answering all questions exclusively in metaphor. Otherwise, you may create a nice picture, but you are not addressing the real concerns of all employees. Clean communication therefore requires a well thought-out strategy.

Clean communication requires a well thought-out strategy - we will be happy to advise you

It makes sense to answer the supposedly simple questions first, as these are the ones that concern the participants the most. Unfortunately, we see far too few employees daring to ask this type of question at the beginning and in large groups. Young children in a familiar environment are more open. We should learn this from them again.

Our counsellors are also good at asking questions. We look forward to finding the right answers together with our clients. And we help them to communicate these answers in a way that all employees can understand.

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York von Negenborn
York von Negenborn
Project Manager
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