Houston, we have a problem.
Sometimes employees don’t trust the sincerity of the communications of the management team because it oozes of political spin. Haven’t we all been part of organizations that either didn’t announce their failures or did so in such a way that sounded like a victory? While, it is important to communicate failures such that they allow the “failure leaders” to maintain their dignity, I argue that it is equally important to reinforce a culture of accountability. I hear managers express concern that admitting failure will lead the masses to lose confidence in their leadership. I have seen quite the contrary. When leaders openly admitted that they made a decision with the information available at the time but they made the wrong decision, employees’ respect for and confidence in the leaders actually grew. Therefore, I encourage my clients at the beginning of a change to communicate their vision, the path to get there, and the planned vector checks along the way. While there is a risk that at those checks they will learn that the original path was flawed, planning to check and being prepared to make adjustments will make the difference between achieving and not achieving the desired results.
My colleague, Kelly Nieto, and I have developed an approach that helps leaders and change facilitators to assess progress along their change path. Stay tuned.