30 DAY FINISH: You Cannot Over-Communicate during Change
We’re finally in the midst of all of the exciting change, moves, and reorganization that we’ve been preparing and planning for all year. Some of our departments are starting to make the transition to their new space and all of us are reshuffling and readjusting to the new landscape.
As leaders, we’re running point on many of the crucial elements of this transition, holding all of the details, making key decisions, and directing traffic to keep the transition smooth.
Through it all, we must be sure we’re owning the key role of coach during this transition and charting a clear course forward for our team as well as communicating frequently about how we’ll accomplish what needs to be done.
As leader and coach, you’re able to see the big picture and can understand how all of the pieces and parts fit together to orchestrate the biggest evolution our organization has seen the past 100 years! You can see the high-level playing field, you know all of the team members and resources on hand, and you can discern how everything must come together to help us achieve our goals.
You can see everything from your position, but your team – your hardworking folks who’ve got their head in the game, hustling play by play – don’t have the same gift of perspective. They can’t see how it’s all coming together and how it’s all going to work out. They need you to share the roadmap, give them the game plan, and tell them time and again how everything is accounted for and what needs to be done.
Your team needs multiple checkpoints with you to steer them and guide them through this transition. They need positivity and encouragement, need clear direction, need status updates, and assurances that everything’s on track and it’s going to be okay. They need to hear from you frequently with meaningful insights on what to expect, what they need to prepare for, and what the move will require of them.
In times of major transition and change, we simply can’t over-communicate as leaders. We may think we’ve said something once or touched on one task in a meeting and we’re good to go, but in the speed and bustle of the activity, our team is craving more touchpoints, more updates, and more certainty that everything’s moving forward as it should.
What is over-communicating and how do I do it effectively?
Over-communicating isn’t micromanaging or info-dumping on your employees at every interaction. Nor is it incessantly emailing the group with every small detail. It’s not an oversharing that makes already-overloaded employees zone out and get distracted from their important work.
Over-communicating is creating clear, concise messaging around essential tasks and updates and making sure all team members have access to key information at all times. It’s creating systems where all employees can quickly and visibly see progress, know what still needs done, and know if any adjustments to our plan are necessary.
It’s making sure to follow up when a task is complete, providing thanks and recognition when things are done well, and being open and available for questions and concerns.
Here’s a great explanation of its importance from Lucidchart:
Overcommunication is particularly important during times of change or crisis and for clarifying and reinforcing key messages from top leadership—such as your organization’s vision, priorities, or company-wide goals.
Managing change, especially on a department or organizational level, requires juggling a lot of moving parts. Without consistent, clear, and regular communication, important details can get lost in the shuffle and employees may end up feeling ignored, undervalued, or confused. Communicating with regular updates and check-ins and reinforcing messaging through follow-ups will help you avoid misunderstandings, keep morale high amidst uncertainty, and transition through change more smoothly.
Here are 5 ways to over-communicate successfully in this transition:
1. Keep it simple: Make sure messages and feedback are straightforward and concise. Don’t get caught up in every detail, but rather clearly communicate expectations, goals, or priorities.
2. Hold frequent check-ins: Instead of long, drawn-out meetings with agendas that cover a broad range of topics or priorities, opt for shorter, focused, more frequent check-ins. Ensure key players are at the table to keep different functions in sync. Then, use subsequent check-ins for brief progress reports and accountability updates to keep everyone on the same page and the project is moving forward as planned.
3. Make your progress visible: Check-ins can be achieved without a meeting with a key hub of information that displays progress and updates for the team. Perhaps your team board shows a timeline or tracker to show what’s been accomplished and what still needs to be done, or you have a digital spreadsheet or management tool that updates real-time as tasks are complete. These systems can be even more effective than meetings as they’re capturing current data, accessible at all hours, and can still provide interaction and engagement with the team.
3: Make 1:1s relaxed: In the middle of a stressful season, 1:1s can be more informal connection points such as a “walk and talk” or chat over lunch. The casual atmosphere will help you connect more deeply with your team, strengthen your relationship, and provide more personalized support to be sure your employees have what they need to succeed.
Be sure to keep your regular cadence of meetings and prioritize this time even when you’re busy. These touchpoints are key to keeping your team tuned in to the plan and in sync with you as a leader.
4. Mix up your modes of communication: There are many ways to communicate with your employees (and vice versa). Different channels will have different uses and advantages. Don’t be afraid to mix up your modes of communication.
For instance, you can schedule weekly standup meetings to check in on team progress and provide any high-level updates, but rely on email or chat for quick questions and post process flowcharts or visuals on your team boards to easily reference project workflows or assignments.
5. Don’t wait on news (good or bad) to reach out: One of the most important rules for good communication is relaying news in a timely manner. Don’t wait to share news—even if it’s bad news. Your team needs to be kept in the loop to make their next, right move. This is especially true during times of uncertainty or change. Even if you don’t have answers for your employees, check in with them frequently to update them (including sharing that you have no news).
Sharing news and updates as the situation evolves builds trust and helps relieve anxiety surrounding uncertainty. If your employees trust that you will be honest and transparent with them, they will be less stressed and better equipped to move through change effectively.
Do your best to integrate these tips throughout this last sprint of the transition. No matter which mode of communication you employ, be sure to stay in touch with your team on a regular, consistent basis and over-communicate what’s happening, what’s coming, and what still needs to be done. They will be more relaxed, more effective, and more committed knowing that they have all of the information they need and are being guided and supported by a trustworthy leader and coach.
TRIANNUAL PLAYLIST: Pumping Your Up as You Press Toward the Peak
Make sure you’re letting yourself have FUN during this transition too! This time of change is exciting and the new campus and all of the improvements to patient care and a better employee experience will be so worth it in the end.
Pump yourself up on the way to work with the Triannual Playlist and put yourself back into the right frame of mind to succeed as a leader and excel as a team.