Remember the childhood game of telephone? You and your friends would sit in a circle, perhaps with two tin cans connected with a string, relaying a message in sequence. Inevitably along the way the selected message became disjointed, misinterpreted, and oftentimes all around nonsensical. The laughs and giggles would ensue at the end and the game would start all over again.
It should come as no surprise that in companies of every size we continue to play a game of telephone when it comes to facilitating organizational change. However, the stakes are much higher when the message becomes fragmented and/or misconstrued. Contrary to our childhood games of telephone, when it comes to organizational change, we don’t just get to laugh and start all over again. Instead, leaders must be thoughtful, intentional, and prepared.
Imagine a company embarking on an internal culture shift – redefining their mission and how data-driven decision making will fuel their growth. There are arguably many paths the company could select when it comes to facilitating a behavioral and performance shift such as this, and the correct approach depends on a multitude of factors. That said, the two most common methods for messaging change are top-down and bottom-up.
Top-down messaging follows a formal network of communication – an executive informs their direct reports, these individuals inform their teams, and the message filters down. Depending on the structure of the organization, not only does this take time, but the game of telephone increases the likelihood of skewed messaging and an unclear understanding of exactly why the change is being made. Although this top-down approach can be effective (and is usually necessary in some measure), many organizations today are focusing on bottom-up change facilitation, acknowledging that to truly create buy-in for a new way of operating it must start with your “front-line” – your individual contributors and managers.
Within this group are what we like to refer to as “culture carriers” – the individuals bought into the mission and vision – they’re signed on for the journey. This group typically displays a high degree of openness to change and new experiences. Additionally, you would likely find these individuals to be on the higher end of conscientiousness – thoughtful, goal-oriented. Most importantly, this cohort has undoubtedly built an informal network within the organization that goes beyond their functional team – they’ve built influence. This group of influencers is your key to successfully facilitating and messaging change.
Now, if you’re a smaller company it can be fairly easy to identify these individuals – they’re usually up for virtual happy hour, eager to get involved in internal initiatives around DEI, community service, new hire onboarding and the like, and their passion for the company is clearly evident. However, in a larger organization and/or remote environment it can be challenging to understand the interconnectedness of individuals and teams. Rarely does anyone have a holistic understanding of the intricate and nuanced relationships across an organization, and when it comes to shifting your culture you shouldn’t be operating on gut feelings alone.
Today, organizations are embracing a broader shift to data-driven decision making as part of the digital transformation push. These organizations understand that to change culture, processes, systems and the like, they must operate differently. This involves understanding their workforce on a deeper level – how information and ideas are exchanged, the strength of formal and informal networks, and how work gets done. When it comes to organizational change, companies essentially need a predictive version of our childhood game of telephone.
This is where the Peoplelogic.ai platform is transforming the way managers and leaders build better teams. Taking people intelligence to the next level, Peoplelogic surfaces actionable and prescriptive insights and recommendations from the tools your team uses daily. Our automated Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) provides a dynamic view of the flow of information and the relationships in and amongst teams, allowing you to visualize and maximize the formal and informal networks within your company. So when it comes to identifying your culture carriers, the individuals you should engage as your change champions, Peoplelogic ensures this is an objective process, guaranteeing a better change outcome and a stronger organization as you transform your culture.