4 Keys to Combating Organizational Change Rumors

2 kids are using tin cans to talk together illustrating that communication problems can hurt change management

One thing we know for sure from change management training and consulting, change is difficult.

Employees tend to hang on to what they know how to do and they resist, often out of fear of failure or incorrect assumptions, adjusting to the new behaviors or circumstances. And what allows these fears to take hold and sabotage any change initiative?

Often it is ugly rumors that are allowed to circulate and reinforce the negative emotions.  We define change rumors as unverified information (not opinions) that are in circulation among your key stakeholders that answer significant questions that people want answered.  Rumors basically fill in the gaps and help people understand an unclear situation.  And when it comes to change rumors, the information is almost always negative.

Just as these kids with tin cans will have to learn to be really clear with their communications if they want to be fully understood, so do business leaders need to learn how to manage communications if they want their change plans to be fully implemented.

Unfortunately when it comes to major organizational change, rumors begin almost immediately after (if not before) the change is announced. From person to person, unverified but compelling statements are passed along. And the untruths build as worker’s fears and insecurities grow. Employees naturally worry about how the change will negatively affect them. Will I lose my job? Is the company going under? Will I be able to switch to a new way of doing things without losing status and pay?

When it comes to effectively managing organizational change, it is critical to stop unsubstantiated rumors in their tracks. Here are four keys to combatting workplace rumors effectively and giving your change program a chance:

  1. Say it clearly, consistently, repeatedly and confidently.
    People spread rumors during change when there is uncertainty. Make sure your message about organizational change is understood by all. And make sure they hear it again and again. It will take time for it to sink in and for employees to adjust to the proposed new way. They will want to know the rationale for the change, be persuaded that it is in their best interests and think through just how they are going to fit in.
  2. Never shirk questions.
    People spread rumors during change when they feel anxiety. Oftentimes uncertainty (see #1 above) raises anxiety.  And anxious people tend to create and spread rumors as they try to make sense of the change and what it means to them and their future.  Be sure as business leader that you and your frontline managers are available to answer questions about the organizational change. Be open and honest in your replies. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Tell people what you know, what you do not know and when you will be able to fill in the gaps.As much as you expect the change to be for the better, acknowledge that there is always some uncertainty to the future. If you dodge questions from stakeholders, they will most likely fill in the blanks with unhelpful rumors.
  3. Provide the facts.
    People spread rumors during change when the available information is fuzzy and the potential impact of the change is important. Provide all relevant facts that prove the rumors are untrue. Find out who is spreading the rumors and, if you can, why. We know about fear and anxiety around change being a cause. But people spread rumors for other reasons too—they simply believe the rumor or it helps their self-image or status within the company. When you can share the facts that prove the rumor wrong, you may have found an ally who can influence employees in a more positive direction.
  4. Get ahead of any “false facts.”
    A well-planned change initiative can include a way for affected employees to check the facts right from the start. Rather than let whispers and social media propel false information, use your intranet to be a source of the real facts. Provide a resource for employees to research a rumor before passing it on.

Effective change management training and consulting relies to a great degree upon managing the communication around change. Anticipate rumors and be ready to counter them in a straightforward manner with the facts.

To learn more about organizational change, download The 5 New Lenses of Change Leadership Whitepaper

Comments are closed.

We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

We have been able to utilize LSA’s extensive network of top-notch resources to leverage our investment in employee development. The result has been the cost effective and highly efficient delivery of quality educational and management training programs.

Steve Feller
Vice President, Human Resources

Understanding and conforming to legal compliance was very important to our company. We turned to LSA Global to provide a quality and cost effective way to ensure that we were AB 1825 compliant. Their interactive eLearning program was top-notch. It allowed our managers to learn at their own pace, and on their own time. The program was tailored to include our logo and our internal harassment policies. It was interactive and met all federal and state legal requirements. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company looking for an efficient and effective and top quality way to train their managers to be in compliance.

Kelly Warren, SPHR
Director, HR & Compliance

I have worked with other training companies and found it to be more of a seller/buyer relationship than one of matching the right expertise to our business issues. That’s what LSA does – ask the hard questions, listen, and understand our business needs. We receive the benefit of their expertise from assistance with personal development plans to enhancing team performance, to looking at enterprise-wide challenges. It’s all about helping our business succeed as we grow. Right now, LSA is providing great ideas, a fresh approach, and valuable guidance as we develop our management team and accelerate our client relationship management results.

Kristin Westland-Kaune
Director, Team Development

VNUS Medical has been very pleased with the effective management development programs that LSA Global has delivered for us over the last four years. The programs have been universally facilitated by experienced and best in class instructors. The knowledge gained by our management team has been put into practice very quickly. VNUS is very happy to be working in partnership with LSA because they consistently deliver excellent programs that receive exceptional feedback from our management team.

Cindee Van Vleck
Director Human Resources

LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

Avon’s success is dependent on strong relationships among our Customers, Representatives, Associates, and outside resources we hire to help us meet our business objectives. We were very pleased with the results from working with LSA Global to design and facilitate a custom program for our events management team. LSA demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility, and an innovative approach to working with us.

Deanna Rudnitsky
Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.

 

Kevin Ashman
Firmware Engineering Supervisor

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.

Robert Breckner
Firmware Engineering Manager

Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office

Fujitsu

LSA helped change our entire culture around meetings, making them more effective and efficient, thus enabling us to concentrate on driving more business.

Terry Wassman
VP of Human Resources

LSA’s customized Effective Presentation Skills program has helped me elevate my presentation skills to the next level. I now have a much greater self-awareness of my presentation skills and can leverage off of my strengths while working to improve upon other areas. I would definitely recommend this solution to anyone for whom business presentations are an integral part of their job.

Jim Elliott
Senior Marketing Manager

Samsung

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources

Hyperion

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More