Change is a hot topic. We talk about it, we resist it, we prepare for it, we research it, we avoid it and we have many opinions about it.
Change affects us personally and professionally and is a mine field for leaders in how to and how not to communicate it.
A google search on articles relating to change provided 1,120,000,000 references, a lot of which are focused on why and how change initiatives fail and how poor communication contributes to this.
Reading LinkedIn chief executive Jeff Weiner’s open letter to announce significant change for LinkedIn and its 9700 full-time employees following Microsoft’s acquisition of the company, it was refreshing to see change being communicated well.
He was respectful
“No matter what you’re feeling now, give yourself some time to process the news. You might feel a sense of excitement, fear, sadness, or some combination of all of those emotions. Every member of the exec team has experienced the same, but we’ve had months to process”.
Weiner acknowledging that he wasn’t expecting everyone to be on the same page emotionally demonstrates respectful behaviour, empathy and understanding that people process change differently.
How we process change will be influenced by past experiences. Sharing that every member of the executive team have had months to process this also provides some space for people to feel okay about their responses to the news. It normalises their response, which will help them to talk openly to colleagues and to ultimately move forward.
He addressed a potential fear
“The Microsoft that has evolved under Satya [Nadella]’s leadership is a more agile, innovative, open and purpose-driven company. It was the latter point that first had me thinking we could make this work, but it was his thoughts on how we’d do it that got me truly excited about the prospect.”
Merging cultures often results in a loss of some of the current culture. This can create fear especially for the smaller organisation.
He connected the change decision to a compelling why
“Remember that dystopian view of the future in which technology displaces millions of people from their jobs?
It’s happening. In the last three weeks alone, Foxconn announced it will replace 60,000 factory workers with robots”.
“I’ve said it on multiple occasions and believe it even more so every day: creating economic opportunity will be the defining issue of our time. That’s why I’m here and why I can’t imagine doing any other job. Simply put, what we do matters, and matters more than ever”.
By Weiner reaffirming his passion and vision for the role of LinkedIn in this future, it ignites an aligned sense of purpose and belonging. This also connects people to a purpose beyond the focus of self to something greater.
Next time you are communicating change, what inspiration can you take from Jeff Weiner’s approach?
Pollyanna Lenkic is an author, coach, and speaker who works with leading organisations. She is an expert in building high-performing teams.