A few months back, I completed a move that felt like an eternity. I shouldn’t complain because I relocated from one apartment to another in the same building (so—yay!—no moving trucks required) but it did seem like I traveled much further.
Even though the move was short, it required a lot of planning because I was starting with a blank canvas—and one that I wanted to turn into a masterpiece quickly. As I reflect on the journey, I realize what made the process successful was my ability to take a fresh perspective.
This approach—viewing challenges in a different light—also works for internal communication. Here are three ways to breathe new life into your program:
1. Reimagine your communication
The biggest selling point of my new apartment was the private balcony that came along with it. But nobody that lived there had ever utilized it.
So, when I moved in, my mission was to transform a drab balcony into what I like to call a “plant lady oasis.” To do so, the communicator in me asked, “What are my objectives?” I knew I wanted a comfortable place to lounge that looked straight out of HGTV, but functionality was key. Keeping this in mind, I gave the balcony a makeover, complete with a fresh paint job, bohemian furniture and many, many plants.
Try this perspective: Think outside the box with your communication. When planning, don’t think about what’s been done before, think about what can be done. For example, if you have an information-heavy document, look for opportunities where you can replace words with visuals. Or, better yet, try a new format, like an infographic or slideshow.
2. Listen to feedback
Maybe the most fun (and overwhelming) part of moving is picking out the perfect paint colors. To help me decide the color for my balcony floor, I asked my colleagues to vote on their favorite paint swabs that I pinned to our communal bulletin board. However, I didn’t solicit unlimited feedback because I limited the color samples to only shades of green.
My colleague Kathleen asked me if I had thought of using the shade of blue I had already bought for my kitchen cabinets. If she didn’t see the blue paint swab on my desk, I wouldn’t have received her recommendation (which for the record I did end up painting my porch; it looks ah-mazing!).
Try this perspective: Give employees an opportunity to provide unfiltered feedback. For example, during interviews or focus groups, ask open-ended questions instead of yes or no questions. One of our favorite questions to ask employees is: “If you could change one thing about XYZ what would it be?”
3. Take your time
Because my place was somewhat of a fixer-upper, I wanted to see results overnight, which lead me to have unreasonable expectations. When I wasn’t making progress as quickly as I had hoped, it made me incredibly frustrated.
A big move—like a change initiative, for example—can seem daunting, but with careful planning (and patience!), it can be a success.
Try this perspective: Change takes time. You may want to jump right into tactics, but you’ll get better results if you do more work upfront. First, analyze the situation, then define your objectives, develop your strategies and then decide on your tactics. The result is worth the wait!