"But you don't understand!" exclaimed manager, "this new initiative is vital for our team. If it doesn't work we could all be out of a job!"
"Uh-huh... Really... Explain to me again how this new initiative is so different from previous initiatives that were also going to cost me my job if they didn't work" asked long-term employee.
"Look; we have to do this. Can't you see?"
"Why do we have to do this? No-one has explained to me yet 'why'."
And therein lies fundamental problem of most management initiatives. They leave one small, seemingly insignificant cog unattended—letting person at 'sharp end' know why a new initiative has been launched and what their own personal role is expected to be.
Even those companies who do let employees know what and why very often fail to elicit anything other than tacit compliance and eventual failure of initiative.
The reason is simple—the employees are given no part in discussion about why a new initiative is needed, business case for it, what shape initiative should take to meet business need, and what their individual role and responsibility is in order to bring initiative to a successful conclusion.
At heart of issue lies communication:
Successful communication is not a one-to-one or one-to-many transaction, but a dialogue between interested parties
...and successful dialogues rely on four principles: Reality, Reaction, Co-ordination and Purposefulness.
1. Being real "Do not say things. What you are stands over you while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to contrary" Charles Darwin, 1859.
For employees (and customers, too!) 'reality' will be those things that most directly affect them. Yes, 'reality' is a perceptive subjectivity, but don't expect someone to change their perception of 'reality' just because you have a different viewpoint.
Internal and external customers of your communication are extremely adapt at seeing 'beyond rhetoric', at exploiting any gap between rhetoric and their 'reality'.
If you are going to promise something, even just manage an expectation, ensure that what you are promising or managing is actually deliverable in vast majority of instances.
2. React to what is said How many managers or salespeople have we ourselves had to endure who listened politely to what you say, nodded their head and gave assuring "ah ha's" even, yet completely and utterly fail to act on what you have said? How many times have such interactions left you feeling like you had just spoken to a smiling and amiable wall?
Dialogue is not dialogue if other person or persons don't react or show they actually understood what you said.
3. Co-ordinate your communication Too often communication is 'lost' on recipients because language used is jargon, or their are just too many implicit and explicit messages. Given a hundred different messages, which one should recipient attend to first? Second? Last?
All communication should be in harmony to strategic framework—that is, vision and support documentation—so that it responds to vision, objectives and values; so that links between vision and messages are clear; and so that language used is common to all stakeholders.