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Communicate Better – Tell, Listen and Adapt

by Elise Olding  |  March 11, 2013  |  1 Comment

Just returned from a couple of days visiting executives in some of the leading organizations in Spain. Amazingly, it’s not technology that is top of mind for many of these executives. It’s organizational change. Why? Because any technology implementation requires a change in the behavior of those using it. This skill is not one that has been well developed in many IT types.

The research I have been doing defines a framework for how to think about communication. It consists of three easy concepts: tell, listen and adapt and was well received with the executives I met with.

Executives are usually very good at telling. This style of communication is top down and directive. It creates the imperative for change. What it lacks is the motivation needed from others in order to achieve the desired change. It is only part of the equation.

Listening is seldom used as part of a communication strategy. Listening means asking for feedback and ideas. This can be done through two way conversations, social media and other interactive methods. Peer advocates, who represent a stakeholder group are an effective way to ach into the orga ization and promote this discussion. Middle managers are also key and as well just be engaged do that they can have discussions with their employees and support them in the change process.

The final and necessary component is to adapt. Once the feedback has been heard, the direction of a program or project many need to be modified. The adapt step is critical to acknowledge listening. Without it, employees will soon become frustrated and disillusioned, feeing that the requested feedback is not being heard. Adapting in the face of valid feedback shows employees that their input is valuable and critical to success. It is also critical to the organizational change.

Consider using an organizational change methodology. It may not be a perfect fit, but you can tailor it along the way to best suit your culture.

Change is a processes and it happens one employee at a time. Respect the pace of change (or change cadence) in each stakeholder group, and apply the concepts above to get better at supporting organizational change. The benefits will pay off for years to come.

Category: bpm-strategic-planning  ea  gartner  organizational-change  strategic-planning  

Tags: bpm  communication  ocm  organizational-change  

Elise Olding
Research Director
7 years at Gartner
32 years IT industry

Elise Olding is a Research Director covering the complex challenges of organizational change and business transformation from a people perspective. Her areas of focus include organizational change, communications strategies and emerging trends in employee engagement from a hands-on practitioner view. Ms. Olding provides research on a worldwide basis, advising clients on best practices to achieve sustainable change and business transformation. She is a member of Gartner's Business Process and Transformation team. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Communicate Better – Tell, Listen and Adapt


  1. […] trustworthy to start with and they can get over what my colleague Elise Olding mentioned in her blog as the tell – a communication style that is top down and […]



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