Q: We work so hard to communicate the change strategy to our teams and organization. We use emails, team meetings, town hall meetings and social media. But the message is not getting through. The associates involved in key projects do not seem to understand our ultimate objectives. And they are not engaged in implementing tasks with the big picture in mind. How can we reach them?
A: All of your communication methods are valid. But there is one medium for communicating change that seems to be missing. If you really want to get your messages heard and acted upon, you must tap into the Informal Power Structure.
The Informal Power Structure
To impact the entire team or organization with your change message, look for people who are players in the Informal Power Structure. If you can get the ringleaders in this network to buy in to the strategy, you can be assured that they will pass along their attitude of commitment to others in their sphere of influence. And if they are skeptical, there is a good chance others will follow their lead.
If you want buy-in to the change initiative, it is not enough to communicate your expectations through formal communication channels. Commitment comes when leaders sit down with the ringleaders of the Informal Power Structure and work out a course of action that everyone can support.
1. Draw a diagram of the formal lines of authority within your organization. Who are the major players? Where has the change initiative gotten stuck? Where is the change strategy working well?
2. Now identify the major hubs in the Informal Power structure. Who are the major players? What interests do they represent? What is each ringleader's current level of commitment to the change?
3. How can you connect and build trust within the Informal Power Structure? How can you get the ringleaders to tell you what their resistance is? What do they know about how things really work in the organization? How can you use this knowledge to gain commitment to your change strategy?