Signaling a Change

Turn Signal SignSomething that really bothers me is people that never signal before changing lanes or turning. Suddenly they are changing lanes, exiting the highway, or slowing down for a turn you didn’t anticipate.

As I was driving behind someone like this yesterday, it made me think about how we change things at work and if many of us are driving around without using turn signals.

When you are planning a change, how early to you start signaling that change? Are you signaling to everyone or just keeping to a select group?

I have been part of many changes–strategic, process, mergers, you name it. I always try to get the change communicated early and often. Signaling early to everyone impacted allows them to be prepared.

Simply making the change that you’ve know about for weeks, months, or years, without even signaling is like those who never use their turn signals. This is simply dangerous in business.

Change causes disruption. The less people are prepared the more disruptive the change will be. Significant changes that are not communicated early and often cause massive disruption and stand the clear risk of failure because so many people will rally against the change when it happens. Basically you’ll cause an accident–maybe a multi-car pileup?

When faced with making a change. Start communicating the “Need for Change” early and solicit input and feedback. Define the reason or “Burning Platform” that is driving the need. As the details are forming of what must change, engage everyone and get their thoughts–this improves buy in.

When the change details are formulating, determine a way to close the gaps between the knowledge, skills, and abilities of those impacted so that when it happens, they are prepared. Nothing worse than not being capable of making the change because it requires KSAs that you don’t have.

Signaling a change in business is as important as signally a change when driving. Those turn signals are not optional equipment, use them.


About johnrknotts
John Knotts is a results-oriented business professional leader, manager, and supervisor with experience from the military, small business, several nonprofits, and is currently a management consultant. Working out of the San Antonio, Texas, he retired from the Air Force in July 2008 and worked with Booz Allen Hamilton from the end of October 2008 to December 2011. Now he is a Strategic Business Adviser with USAA. John leads large and small strategic transformations and has extensive experience in the areas of change management, strategic planning, process improvement, strategic communication and marketing, strategic human capital and resource management, education and training, facilitation, organizational design and development, modeling and simulation, financial and budget analysis, activity based costing and management, quality management, competitive sourcing and privatization, leadership development, and business development.

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