We all know the saying “good news travels fast.” Well, “bad information travels faster.” The rumor mill can quickly take control of your message and cost you hours in damage control and lost productivity. Simply announcing the “what” without explaining the “why” and it’s anticipated impact – particularly to those affected – may overshadow what you view as progress. Information vacuums can easily fuel distracting gossip and crippling anxiety as people make up and spread their own version of “why.”
Stay ahead of the warp speed at which bad information travels by being proactive. When sharing information about a change, a new procedure or a shift in workflow, explain the “what,” the “why” and the impact up front. Keep your message positive, focusing on the business benefits and how the change is expected to create needed efficiencies or improved customer service.
Consider testing your message or news of an impending change with a small group that can help you understand how those affected might react. Encourage them to pepper you with honest, tough questions that will allow you to prepare for concerns you might not be able to anticipate at your level. This may also lead to making adjustments ahead of your announcement that result in improvements you hadn’t thought of.
Use this process before announcing technology upgrades, process alterations, organizational restructuring, personnel moves, mergers, acquisitions, changes in leadership or anything else that might send ripples of gossip through your organization carried along by a wave of dissatisfaction.
Whenever the ground of the familiar shifts, it’s always best to explain the “what,” “why” and impact of the new. And once you’ve answered difficult questions, leave your door open to let your team know that you’re available for individual follow-up discussions.