Communications When Things Go Wrong

Communications When Things Go Wrong

Winning Friends In A Crisis – How To Manage Communications When Things Go Wrong!

How you handle communications when things go wrong is important.  Bad communications when things go wrongthings happen in all organisations. Sometime the problem lies within the organization. Sometimes it is the environment outside that causes a crisis. To respond well as a manager, you need a strategy that will do the following

  • Deal with the problem causing the crisis;
  • Assist any victims and those directly affected;
  • Communicate with, and enlist, the support of employees.
  • Inform those indirectly affected; and
  • Manage the media and all external stakeholders in the organization.

Seven dimensions

For communications when things go wrong, there are seven dimensions to consider. These will be  important if you want to communicate in a way that limits damage. Particularly to the reputation of the organization. There may be limitations on what you can say for legal reasons. But, the nearer you get to covering the seven dimensions, the more effective your communications will be.

The seven dimensions to consider for communications when things go wrong

  1.  Candor. A public acknowledgement that a problem exists and a commitment to put it right, usually wins trust. And it will win respect for the organization.
  2. Explanation. Explain promptly and clearly what went wrong. Base this on the knowledge available at the time and any legal constraints. If there is not yet full information, make a commitment to report regularly. Tell people when they can expect more information. Continue making reports until full information is available or public interest dissipates.
  3. Declaration. Make a clear public commitment to take steps to address and resolve any issues raised by the incident.
  4. Contrition. Make it clear that you, and those in charge of the organization, are sorry for what has happened. Show empathy and regret. If there is reason to be embarrassed, then show embarrassment about what has happened and for allowing it to happen.
  5. Consultation: Ask for help from pubic authorities and anyone else who can provide it, if that will help those hurt or prevent this from happening again. Do this even if it means accepting help from opponents or competitors.
  6. Commitment: Be prepared to make a promise that, to the best of the organisation’s ability, similar situations will never occur again.
  7. Restitution: Find a way to quickly pay the price, compensate and make restitution.

Go the extra mile

Show in your communications that you are prepared to go beyond what people would expect, or what is legally required, to put things right. Adverse situations remedied quickly, usually cost far less. They are controversial for shorter periods of time.

This is the gold standard. The closer you get to it, the more respect there will be for you, and your organization. Plus the sooner the public are likely to forgive, if not forget.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link

         

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Handling Resistance

Handling Resistance

Leading Change the Kotter Way

Handling resistance and fear is the fifth step in the Kotter model. This is handling resistanceabout empowering action, over coming resistance and getting rid of obstacles to change. This post is  part of a series on the Kotter approach to leading change. I am in process of revamping my original Kotter model series. Links to all the earlier Kotter posts are in the next paragraph.

The Kotter model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organisation or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. We have already reissued; Step One: Creating Urgency Step Two: Forming a Powerful CoalitionStep Three Creating a Vision for Change and Step Four: Communicate Your Vision

Now we are reaching the point where your investment in Stages 1 to 4, begins to pay dividends. Kotter himself states that when Stages 1 to 4 are skipped, resistance is inevitable and this can destroy your change.

People resist change because they fear loss.

They believe they are defending something they value which feels threatened.   This can include loss of security, power, resources and overall loss of control.  Most of us fear the unknown.

If you have followed the earlier Kotter steps when you reach this point, you will have been talking about your vision and building up buy-in from all levels of the organisation. Hopefully, your group will want to get busy and be out there achieving the benefits that you’ve been promoting.

But there may still be some resisting the change!  There may be people (individuals or groups), processes, structures and even organisations that are getting in the way? You not only need to put in place the structure for change, but check continually for barriers and blockers to it.

Handling resistance and removing obstacles can empower the people you need to execute your vision and it certainly helps them move the change forward.

Handling resistance! To remove obstacles you should;

  • Identify, or hire, change leaders whose main roles are to deliver the change.
  • Look at your organisational structure, job descriptions and performance and compensation systems to ensure they’re in line with your vision.
  • Recognise and reward people for making change happen.
  • Identify people who are resisting the change and help them see what’s needed.
  • Take action quickly to remove barriers (human or otherwise).

When people are resistant;

  • Help them understand the logic behind the change.
  • Give them an opportunity to contribute – to help design and implement the change (e.g., ideas, task forces, committees).
  • Provide facilitation & coaching to help them adjust to the change.
  • Offer incentives to those who continue to resist change.

If all else fails, and this change is critical to the organisation, you may need to use authority to get people to accept the change or move them sideways and, sometimes, even out of the organisation. Do it with as much respect for their dignity as possible – those remaining will be marked by how your respond .

This can be one of the most challenging stages for the Change Leader but – as I’ve written here many times before – no one told you change was going to be easy!

Meanwhile …

Here is a Kotter Reading List for you;

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Communication; what matters most!

Communication; what matters most!

Communication – what do you think matters most in your conversations with communicationothers? Are  your words clear? Is your tone authentic? What about body language? Do you show you like them? Yes, it all matters. But what is the balance between these different elements?

Are you like me? Have you spent many happy hours at seminars and training courses where the 3V (Verbal, Vocal, Visual) rule was quoted. And, you were told that words count for 10% or less of any face to face conversation! Well, guess what, that isn’t always true! No, it isn’t even what the 3V rule actually says!

The rule is based on the work of Professor Albert Mehrabian who carried out two studies in the 1960s.  Those studies were about feelings and communicating emotion. He found that our liking for the person who was communicating their feelings to us consisted of 7% Verbal Liking , 36% Vocal Liking and 55% Facial (Visual) Liking. In other words, if you want someone to like you then make sure your words are consistent with your tone, keep your eye contact but make sure your smile.

7% Verbal, 36% Vocal and 55% Visual was such a simple concept. And, it was so easy to articulate. That meant it drifted into communications’ theology and became received wisdom!

In reality, other studies have been quite inconsistent!  And the balance between the 3Vs varies in context.  For example, it is fairly obvious that if you are giving a lecture on a technical subject your words, and the precise way you use them, becomes rather more important than whether you smile.

Communication; but smiling does help!

All communication is a two-way process and people are more likely to listen to you if they like you!

So, if you want to get your message across, you can’t ignore Professor Mehrabian’s work on conveying genuine emotion and his 3Vs.

In one to one encounters, show genuine interest in the other person and listen closely to what they say. Smile, be warm, enthusiastic and responsive. And show you care about your subject, nothing is more attractive! But don’t overwhelm them and don’t fake it!

Find something to like in your audience!  So, work on finding out about them. If you work hard enough, you are very likely to find something to like.

Professor Mehrabian’s findings may not be what we first thought they were. But they are still enormously valuable. You can find his website at this link.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

 

Communicate Your Vision

Communicate Your Vision

Leading Change the Kotter Way

Communicate your vision is the fourth step in the Kotter model.  This is part of a series on the Kotter approach to leading shining light 2change. I am in process of revamping my original Kotter model series. This post is about communicating the vision that you created in the last stage. Links to all the earlier Kotter posts are in the next paragraph.  You should be working with a vision that people will be able to understand, get on board with and remember.

The Kotter model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organisation or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. We have already reissued; Step One: Creating Urgency and Step Two: Forming a Powerful Coalition  and Step Three Creating a Vision for Change.

Step Four: Communicate Your Vision

So you believe you have an overall vision that people will be able to grasp easily and remember. Now you need to get your vision out there to the people who need to understand it. Believe me, how you communicate it, will determine whether your change works, or not.

Your message is likely to have lots of competition. It will have to stand out from all the day-to-day communications within the company. As well as that, if your change is really significant, you can expect the rumour mill to be at work already. It is more likely to be spreading bad news than good. So you need to communicate your vision frequently and powerfully.

But, communicating your vision is not all about words. You and your guiding team need to walk the talk. You need to show that you believe and embed message in everything that you do.

Don’t just call special meetings to communicate your vision. Instead, talk about it every chance you get. The guiding team need to be visible and let people see you as the embodiment of the change you intend to make.

The top team should be using the vision daily to make decisions and solve problems. And so should all those who are actively engaged. Challenge those who do not. Keep the message fresh and on everyone’s minds.  Then they will begin to remember your vision and respond to it.

What you do is far more important – and believable – than what you say.

Make sure the whole guiding team demonstrates the kind of behaviour you want from others.

  1. Talk often about your vision to make it real.
  2. Be authentic – openly and honestly address peoples’ concerns and anxieties.
  3. Be prepared to answer questions but when doing so keep your vision in mind.
  4. Apply your vision to all aspects of operations – from training to performance reviews.
  5. Tie everything back to the vision.
  6. Lead and manage by example.

If you would like some help thinking about how you are going to communicate your change and how you reflect your vision in what you do, please get in touch. I’ve been there myself.

Meanwhile …

Here is a Kotter Reading List for you;

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Managing Difficult Conversations: Nine Questions to Ask Yourself

Managing Difficult Conversations: Nine Questions to Ask Yourself

Managing Difficult Conversations! I found a very interesting set of slides on Managing Difficult ConversationsSlideshare from communications’ consultant, executive coach and lecturer, Barbara Greene. She helps senior executives communicate powerfully and thrive in business environments.

Do you avoid difficult conversations? There is no need to avoid them if you focus on the constructive possibilities. Start by asking yourself these nine critical questions.

If you need support with your difficult conversation, get in touch (wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com )


Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Leadership Tips For First Time Managers

Leadership Tips For First Time Managers

Leadership Tips For First Time Managers – I found these great tips on the Bridge Training website – you can find a link below

1. Accept that you will have lots to learn. You will have worked hard for your promotion and will have ample expertise in your chosen field but you may find that you lack self-confidence in your ability to lead. Be prepared to learn from others including your new team.

2. Communicate early. Always keep your team fully informed of project goals, priorities and those all important deadlines. Effective communication will be essential in both establishing your credibility and gaining the support of your team so make sure that you provide clear direction and always welcome questions and feedback from others.

3. Set a good example. Demand from yourself the same level of professionalism, and dedication that you would expect from others. If you expect the team to be up beat and friendly, then make sure you are! If you expect written reports to be error free then double check your own!

You can find the rest at this link

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

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Being a good leader; communication and active listening

Every piece of advice you read about how to be a good leader talks about the need for good communication – an able leader is an able communicator! Yes, quite right. But communication is a two-way process. For any leader the ability to listen is right up there with the ability to deliver the message. And listening is more the just hearing a sound and knowing what the words usually mean.

In coaching we spend a lot of time thinking about active listening – for us it is a core skill. Active listening is hearing with engagement. In active listening you work to not just to hear the words, but to understand exactly what the other person is trying to say.

For coaches active listening is important not only because we need to understand but also because when we listen fully, the client feels appreciated and respected – it helps them to have trust.

Surely as a leader you want, just as much as coach, to be trusted and in due course to inspire your organization.

Active listening is a skill and it requires practice but here are some tips to help you on your way.

  1. Position Be somewhere where you can see and be seen by your hearer for important messages. Talking one to one or in small groups, sit up straight or lean forward slightly to show your attentiveness through body language.
  2. Maintain comfortable eye contact. Again one to one and in small group you need to judge the night degree of eye contact. Give good warm “face”,  and don’t stare them down or threaten with your glare. Remember, acceptable eye contact changes with culture. In some cultures it is very rude indeed to look straight into someone’s eyes.
  3. Minimize external distractions. Reduce external noise. Turn off the TV in the corner of the room. Ask people to stop what else they are doing and switch off your mobile phone. If someone comes to talk to you in your office, it is better to ask them to wait outside than to go on writing whilst they are in the room.  Writing on looks arrogant and it sends a clear message about what you think of their status relative to yours.
  4. Respond appropriately When someone is talking to you show that you understand. You can murmur (“uh-huh” and “um-hmm”) and nod. Raise your eyebrows. Say words such as “Really” and “Interesting,” as well as more direct prompts: “What did you do then?” and “What did she say?”. All these things show that you are interested and encourage the other person to keep talking.
  5. Focus solely on what the speaker is saying. If you concentrate properly on what someone is saying to you, your response will usually come naturally. If there is a silence – it usually means something. Silences often follow important statements, they give us breathing and thinking time. Don’t spend thinking time on what to say, spend it on reflection about what has been said, then you will find the conversation usually flows.
  6. Be aware of what is happening inside you. You may find your own thoughts intruding as you try to listen. This can happen particularly if what is being said touches your own emotions. But let your thoughts go for not and keep refocusing back on the speaker, Time afterwards to reflect on what this meant for you.
  7. Suspend judgement Wait until the speaker has finished before forming your opinion, even if they are complaining. In fact, it is even more important,if you think you are likely to disagree with what they are saying . Take the time to take in all that they have said before you give an opinion.
  8. Don’t jump to tell them what you did last time. People don’t want to be thought of as just another number, case or employee. Treat each person you speak to as an individual meriting individual consideration. There will be a time to use past examples but judge their use with care – packaged solutions do not blend well with feelings.
  9. Be engaged Ask questions for clarification, once again, wait until the speaker has finished. Don’t interrupt their train of thought. After you ask questions, paraphrase their point to make sure you didn’t misunderstand. You could start with: So you’re saying…” This shows that you are really listening.
  10. Practice your active listening skills, particularly handling silence. Learn to use it to better understand what is being said to you. As your listening skills develop, so will your speaking skills and your ability to hold a conversation. You will be surprised how active listening draws people to you. People warm to those who take the trouble to really listen to them.

 

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com

Registered with Life Coach Directory

Other  articles by Wendy

Leading the Confident Team

Teams of ROTC cadets compete at the water conf...

First would you describe yourself as a confident team leader?

As the leader, you no doubt have confidence in your technical abilities but do you have confidence in yourself? Are you a team leader with self-confidence?

When you are a confident team leader, you are someone who is comfortable in your own skin and in the team leader role!

You know who you are and you know what you stand for, not just in this role but in your life in general.

In successful teams, it is vital that team spirit develops and that members adopt an ‘all for one’ attitude.  But to be successful as a team, each member also needs to have confidence in themselves in their role within the team.

A team is only ever as strong as its weakest link and if a member lacks confidence in themselves, they will also lack confidence in their role within the team.

A strong team is made up of individual members who believe in themselves and their abilities but they also believe that they are stronger because they are playing as a team, and not as individuals.

Unfortunately, when you lack self-confidence, your thoughts and actions are greatly influenced by people around you and by those you believe to be more confident and competent than you. This means that you are easily led by those who are more confident than you.

Even when you believe the team could do better adopting a different approach, your lack of confidence may lead you to doubt your own judgment.

To be successful, it’s essential that each team member develops confidence in themselves and in their role.  But this is most important for the team leader!

If you are not confident in yourself , as leader, then the team is likely to sense your doubts and their confidence in their own roles within the team will be eroded.

Each team member needs to believe in themselves and in their abilities so that all can contribute fully.

Self-confidence can be described as a positive mix of self-efficacy (respect for your own competence) and self-esteem (valuing yourself).

The good news is that confidence is largely learned and with support it can be acquired by anyone.

So if you have to lead a team, act now if you have reservations about your own or a team member’s confidence!

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence

If you would like to work on developing your own confidence, Wendy offers the Wisewolf Learn to Be Confident Program at this link

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

  • Confidence and the Passionate Leader (wisewolftalking.com)
  • 6 Tips for Confident Networking (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • 12 Tips for Confident Interviews (leavingthepublicsector.blogspot.com)
  • The ability to bounce – coping with life’s problems (leavingthepublicsector.blogspot.com)

Confidence and the Passionate Leader

confidence

If you wish to be a successful leader, you need confidence!

Passion, communication, and empowerment all contribute to successful leadership but without confidence there is no sound basis from which to lead.

The ability to make good decisions quickly is fundamental to leadership.  But if you are diffident and afraid to make, and commit to, decisions, skills in communication and empowerment will not make up the difference.

I’m afraid leaders cannot get away with “well, maybe but I’m not really sure”!

Those lacking in confidence often agonize over decisions and end up making the safe choice.  Confident leaders take the information that they have and then take action.

Not only does confidence allow you to make the tough decisions that people expect from a good leader but confidence is reassuring to those following. It allows you to lead with authority and to accept constructive criticism and open communication.

Think about it, as a leader, how well you deliver speeches and presentations?  If you deliver with confidence, you inspire your hearers be they your team or potential clients. But the same material delivered with doubt has the opposite effect

How confident are you delivering a presentation that sets the direction for the organization in the future? Will people rally behind you in these difficult times or will they be frightened by your lack of certainty? This is the difference between a confident leader and one who going through the motions!

All kinds of factors contribute to a lack of confidence; some of them may go back to your childhood.  Luckily confidence is something that you can work on with a business or career coach and the results are usually very successful.

Any discussion on leadership without first addressing the confidence of the leader really will not be soundly based. Passion is important but no one will follow you with passion unless you first inspire them with your confidence


Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence.You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

Related articles

  • 6 Tips for Confident Networking (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Appreciative Inquiry – making change truly positive! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leadership and the abuse of power (wisewolftalking.com)

Leader, know your friend or foe!

Dragon-Knights
Image by JimmytheJ via Flickr

As a leader things you do have an impact!

As a leader, the things you do and the choices you make have an impact on those about you.

The more people you affect, the more likely it is that your actions will impact on people who have power and influence over your ability to deliver your vision.

These people could be strong supporters of your work – or they could obstruct it.

Identify key people

You need to make sure that you can find the key people who support you already and those who still need to be won over. Then you can;

  • Use the opinions of your most powerful supporters to shape your plans at an early stage. Not only does this make it more likely that they will support you, but, their input can improve the quality of your approach.
  • Use strong support to help you to win more resources – this makes success more likely
  • By communicating make sure your supporters fully understand what you are doing and the benefits it will bring.  They can then act as your ambassadors.
  • Anticipate what people’s reaction to you may be, and build into your plan the actions that will win people’s support.

The first step is to brainstorm who supports you and who does not.

Think through all the people who are affected by your work.  Who has influence or power over it?  Who has an interest in its successful or unsuccessful conclusion?

And now the analysis

You may now have a long list of people and organizations that are affected by your work.

Some may have the power either to block or advance. Some may be interested in what you are doing, others may not care.

You need to map your list on to grid like the one below.

Someone’s position on the grid shows you the actions you have to take to ensure your success:

  • High influence, interested people: these are the people you must make time and effort to engage with and try to satisfy.
  • High influence, less interested people: for these people you need to try to keep them satisfied.  But don’t over-communicate or they may begin to see you as a nuisance
  • Low influence, interested people: keep these people adequately informed, and talk to them to ensure there are no major issues.  They could be useful on the details and in spreading the message
  • Low influence, less interested people: again, monitor but do not bore them with excessive communication.

Now it is time for you to get to work!

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

  • 6 Tips for Confident Networking (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Becoming A Leader Today – What to give up! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Appreciative Inquiry – making change truly positive! (wisewolftalking.com)