Magazine article Communication World

Change Communication Isn't Brain Surgery, but It's Work: To Successfully Manage Organizational Change, We Need to Consider Human Nature

Magazine article Communication World

Change Communication Isn't Brain Surgery, but It's Work: To Successfully Manage Organizational Change, We Need to Consider Human Nature

Article excerpt

In his book A Whole New Mind, best-selling author Dan Pink writes that there is a disconnect between what science knows and what business does.

Well stated! For example, consider these five ways that many organizations often introduce change:

1. The strong-arm approach: muscling change through at any cost.

2. The rational appeal: explaining the reason for change in data and numbers.

3. The "all hat and no cattle" style: inspiring talk with little to no action.

4. The silent type: working under the radar to introduce the change before anyone notices.

5. The herky-jerky move: doing a combination of all of these and confusing people at every stage.

Why do these methods generally flop? They don't consider how our brains work. Whether we're engineers, finance types or communicators, our brains are more similar than different. Each of us has a rational side and an emotional side, which often fight with each other.

To communicate effectively, we must present evidence to the former and paint a picture for the latter. So, in talking with a large group of people--say, 10,000 employees--we're really trying to influence twice that: 10,000 rational brains and 10,000 emotional brains.

What's the point? To be successful influencers/ communicators, we can't submit entirely to those who say, "Just share the facts. This is business communication."

We also must stop playing funeral music, assuming the change journey is a passage of personal loss. As Theresa Welbourne, president and CEO of the human resources management firm eePulse, says, the grief models for explaining change worked well when change was an episodic event that had clear starting and stopping points. Today, when we're careening from one change to the next, we don't have the time to follow the grief cycle (shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance).

Instead, we need to consider what neuroscientists know about the brain. For example, in my work, I follow David Rock, who has developed a brain-based approach to executive coaching. He's collaborating with several leading neuroscientists to explain the neural basis of self-awareness, reflection, insight and accountability, all of which have a major impact on how leaders facilitate change, collaborate with others, stay cool under pressure, make decisions and solve problems. …

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