Good Communication vs. Good Luck

We often discuss how global companies and retailers can learn a lot from the intensely customer-focused mentalities and good communication tactics of many small businesses. I am now in the depths of navigating the recent rather quick sale of my home and subsequent move into an apartment while our new home is built. This move is a big change for my family and comes right on the heels of moving to a new school last year.

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OK. No worries – my family is used to change. Plus, with a marketing and change management consulting background, I’m an advocate of good communication. We talk openly about the impacts of big family decisions and how we’re going to handle them. So I’ve got that covered.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the lack of communication from the property management company. This is a fairly large organization with many properties and a pretty decent lessee web portal, so I would assume that they’d have the “New Lessee Welcome Packet” ready and waiting for me when I picked up my keys. I expected this packet to be just choc full of area information, instructions about the property’s facilities, recycling and waste disposal procedures, important phone numbers, etc. Perhaps even a little welcome package with coffee and dish soap to get us started. Unfortunately…I got nothing. Nada. Zip. I was simply handed my keys and told “Good luck.”

Good luck? That’s it??

Granted, I’ve bought, sold, and moved many homes in my lifetime, and countless apartment rentals prior to entering the fun that is homeownership, so there’s not much I can’t handle or figure out on my own.

But it shouldn’t be that way. I have two full+ time jobs: The Parker Avery Group and Mom, plus now the task of unpacking and making the apartment livable for the next seven months. I really don’t have a lot of extra time to be figuring out where to take my recycling, who to call to get my internet set up, or how to obtain a key for my little apartment mailbox. And – most importantly – know what restaurants provide take-out and delivery. These may seem like small things, but multiply them by about ten and they become individual elements – and headaches – of the larger change.

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The property management company could have made lessees’ lives a lot easier by simply providing a page or two of details about living in the apartment community. This bit of communication is not a difficult thing to do but would add tremendous value and ease the transition into a brand new environment.

Sound familiar?

Organizations embarking on even smaller implementations and initiatives should take the approach of over-communicating and ensuring details are taken care of even at the seemingly most insignificant levels. Yes, I knew I’d have to get a key to my mailbox. And yes, figuring out how to obtain said mailbox key was not exactly difficult, but it took two phone calls to the management office plus three trips to the post office to get this done. I had not planned for this and had to rearrange other schedules and priorities to accommodate these nuisances. Had I known exactly what the process was upfront, I would have been prepared and able to accomplish it much more efficiently and with a lot less aggravation.

You really don’t want your hard-working staff to be disrupted in their jobs by having to figure out the details of a new environment, whether it is a new system, a new vendor, an organizational change, or even something smaller. It’s not enough to let them know “high level” information about a change. Understand that they want to do their jobs efficiently (a key element of employee satisfaction), and you need to enable this by providing effective, good communications, or you risk the creation of rogue processes, less likelihood of buy-in and acceptance, and not achieving some of your expected benefits.

Key Elements of Good Communication

  • What exactly is the new process? Is it easy for all to understand?

  • Who is impacted? Who else should know about the change?

  • What are the best vehicles or media for communicating new process? (Note that these may differ depending on the audiences.)

  • How often should communications be delivered?

  • Whom should they call for help and what is the expectation of a response?

  • How will feedback and suggestions be handled?

As bright and as skilled as they may be, don’t just hand your employees the keys and say “Good luck.” Begin early in the project and address the above points for even the smallest changes. By employing these tenets of good communication, you will have a much smoother transition, less loss of productivity, and happier employees.

Now, about my pool key…

– Tricia

Tricia Gustin, Senior Director of Marketing

Tricia Gustin
Senior Director of Marketing

The Parker Avery Group is a leading retail and consumer goods consulting firm that specializes in transforming organizations and optimizing operational execution through the development of competitive strategies, business process design, deep analytics expertise, change management leadership, and implementation of solutions that enable key capabilities.

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Published On: January 16, 2014Categories: Change Management, Communication, Tricia Chismer Gustin