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Perfect Phrases for Communicating Change- Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Maintaining Focus and Productivity During Organizational Change

Employees respond to organizational change with worry, fear, and sometimes even panic. Your job is to keep them motivated and focused—so you must choose your words carefully during times of upheaval.

Perfect Phrases for Communicating Change has hundreds of ready-to-use phrases for ensuring your employees make the transition with clarity, commitment, and skill. Learn the most effective language for:

* Articulating new company initiatives
* Responding to questions with confidence
* Easing employees’ fears
* Clarifying roles and responsibilities
* Addressing resistance and performance problems

Your book is called “Perfect Phrases for Communicating Change- Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Maintaining Focus and Productivity During Organizational Change.”

Is there such a thing as a perfect phrase during change?

Life happens! You prepare and plan. Then you get in the room and the human being(s) opposite of you have a reaction different from what you expected. This is life. You will need to continually adjust your words, tone and focus to get your message across. Rest assured that the best spontaneous conversations are well planned. Thinking through and practicing your words will definitely help you get as close to perfect as humanly possible!

Our book offers choices and examples of phrases and suggests to our readers that they pick them according to their style and the situation. They will also find that reviewing the content can also serve as a checklist, inspiration and reminder. Rather than focus on just the words– they will be reminded of what is important to discuss during the turbulent times of change.

What if anything should you never say when leading change?

Sometimes the best lessons are learned by ours and others mistakes. There are certainly statements you should not make, some clear No, No’s. Other statements, even if not ideal, could work in the right situation.

For example:

Never make commitments you can’t keep. E.g.

  • “There will be no more layoffs.”
  • “I’ll give you a promotion next year.”
  • “Don’t worry this will not affect you.”

Don’t be insensitive. E.g.

  • “Just suck it up!”
  • “You are the most dysfunctional group of people I have ever met.”
  • “We haven’t laid anybody off YET!”

And last but not least: Don’t lie.

How does this apply across different industries, cultures and different languages?

Communication challenges are universal. Most situations are not black and white and accordingly there is not the one single answer. Part of being a good change manger requires the ability of navigating different cultures, observing people as they react to what you are saying, asking for feedback and being able to put yourself into your partner’s shoes.

Large parts of the book apply to any culture. However, there are some parts (like e.g. power-struggle and career discussions, handling resistance, coaching), which are more dependent on the culture in which you work and live. Also cultures vary greatly between companies even within the same geography, or across functions within the same company. For example between engineering and sales you find big difference in style and content you need to communicate.

Lastly, this book has been written with the needs of a global business community in mind. This global business community has been heavily influenced by western Anglo-Saxon standards. The book is a very effective tool for people who are not from western or Anglo-Saxon cultures but have to work with them.

How do you keep morale up during times of change?

You can’t keep morale up. Change is emotionally challenging for everyone. This makes people lose focus, procrastinate, and just become generally unproductive. We have come up with 8 ways to keep people during change. They are:

  1. Providing Clarity of Vision / Direction- Help people keep the big picture in mind
  2. Relationship and Team Building-Stay focused on the people
  3. Recognizing and Celebrating Progress-Take time to remind people what is going right
  4. Showing Trust and Support – Give your employees the leeway to succeed but also get them the help they need
  5. Providing Learning Opportunities-Focus on opportunities to learn new skills and new business perspectives
  6. Making Decisions Expeditiously – Don’t be the barrier to progress.
  7. Including and Involving People-Get the right people involved in making decisions about the new ways to do things/
  8. Relieving Stress and Having Fun-Have parties, long lunches and take things lightly to help make a difficult situation a little easier.

Are there any main observations you make about why change communication fails?

1. It is too often one-way instead of two-way: You have to be in touch with your employees to make change work. Constant monitoring of how your messages are received is also key to your change success. Listen to your employee’s point of view. They often know best of how to make this change work.

2. Your messages need to be clear, short and repeated.

  • Be clear. Create a clear case. Practice before delivering it. Ask yourself about what kind of questions you could be asked.
  • Be short. Your audience has a short attention span. You need to be able to communicate the core within 60 seconds.
  • Repeat the message over and over again. Change is cluttered with a lot of emotions. Many people may be with you, looking at you but still not be hearing you! You have to say things over many times before people get it.

3. The Messages are not close enough linked to business: The business case needs to be made at the outset of any change. Don’t underestimate the business savvy and flexibility of your people. However, they want to first understand. The sure death sentence of a change initiative is that your team doesn’t understand why you’re changing.

4. It takes backbone: There is usually a lot of resistance to change. You have to know what the boundaries are. What are you willing to accept? What are the consequences of non-compliance? All too often leaders don’t take a stand! They are hiding and waiting for problems to pass. This never works.

About the Authors:

Lawrence Polsky

Since 1993, as an author, speaker, coach, consultant and trainer, Lawrence Polsky has inspired and instructed over 4,500 managers and professionals on 5 continents in the areas of leadership, change management, team building, and professional development. He is co-founder of PeopleNRG a Princeton, NJ, based consulting firm focusing on Organizational Change Lawrence earned his MS in Organization Development from the American University / NTL program.



Antoine Gerschel

Antoine Gerschel, co-founder of PeopleNRG a Princeton, NJ, based consulting firm focusing on Organizational Change, has lived change challenges in many shapes and forms in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He has held senior leadership positions in pharmaceutical and international consulting companies. Antoine is originally from Switzerland and has a MBA from the St. Gall Graduate School of Business (a leading European business school). He is fluent in English, French, German and Spanish.

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