Sunday, August 9, 2009

Your Change IQ

How much do you know about the most effective methods of communicating organizational change? How much do you know about the effects of organizational development and change on the people affected by the change? Take this quiz to test your understanding. The answers are listed below.

1. The initial communication regarding the change should be:

A. To the point and as brief as possible.

B. Include as much detail as possible.

C. Down-played to reduce possible reactionary stress.

2. The change should be explained as:

A. Routine and something not to be feared.

B. Something that complaining won’t fix.

C. In the best interest of the organization.

3. Frame the message on change from the perspective of:

A. The executive level.

B. The managerial level.

C. The employee level.

4. Objections to change should be:

A. Brought out in the open.

B. Down-played because they will soon disappear.

C. Dismissed quickly.

5. Structure the message on change to:

A. Foster good feelings.

B. Build compliance.

C. Build understanding and commitment.

6. In follow-up meetings and communications describing change:

A. Divulge everything you know.

B. Explain only what they need to hear.

C. Admit what you don’t know.

7. Change is best explained in:

A. Small functional groups.

B. Large groups.

C. Using media like TV or email.


1. A. Those who plan and deliver the initial message on change can overstate and over communicate in the statement- too much, too soon can overwhelm the receiver, which lead to confusion and misinformation. It can also be viewed as an attempt to deceive. The first statement announcing organizational change needs to be honest, straightforward, brief, and constructed in relatively simple language. Make the message to the point, with little hype, and include no empty promises.

2. C. The participants of change need to believe that the change is needed at this time and is in the best interests of the overall company. If this message isn’t clearly communicated, some people may believe that the change is intended to benefit a small minority or select group. Words that tend to communicate business necessity include: growth, competitive position, market share, market position, stability, strategic strength, and so forth.

3. B and C, and possibly A. Too often executives construct a message for other executives and the media, but then try to deliver it to individual contributors and their managers. Messages that describe change need to be constructed in language that benefits people at all levels. Both managers and individual contributors need to buy into the change, so the words and concepts need to be aimed specifically at them.

4. A. During the communication of change it is common to hear comments and/or objections. If there is a perceived attempt to conceal or dismiss the comments, it will be difficult at a later time to build understanding and commitment to the plan. Let comments come to the surface and deal with them in an honest manner.

5. C. Commitment to the plan and trust of its consequences can only happen after the people understand what is going to happen, why it is necessary, why now, how it will be accomplished, and who will be involved. Skipping the understand step or failing to answer questions will likely lead to dissent and distrust.

6. A and C. It is important for people hearing about change to believe that they have heard the entire story. Remember, perception is reality. If a critical mass of the people involved comes to believe that not everything has been divulged, then a covert or overt resistance can seriously thwart the plan. Likewise, if the answer to a question isn’t known, it must be admitted, but include how and when the answer will be communicated.

7. B is best, but A and C may be necessary. It has been my experience, both receiving and delivering messages on organizational change, that small groups are the best venue (fewer than a dozen people). The personal touch and attention affords a more conducive atmosphere to not only communicate the message, but also to defuse misconceptions or misinformation. Some organizations, however, due to logistics and size are constrained to communicate via large groups and/or media.

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