At the end of May, one of my friends reached out, sounding disappointed and somewhat panicked. Her company, which had been working remotely for the last year due to the pandemic, had sent out a company-wide email telling their thousands of employees that they had to be back in the office in one week. No exceptions.
Like a lot of organizations that are now requiring teams to come back to the office in light of increased vaccination rates, this company experienced pushback… a lot of pushback. In some cases, it was so extreme that people revolted by quitting.
(In fact, we’re seeing a record number of employees resigning from their jobs in a trend that’s being called “The Great Resignation”. (See my 6/30 blog here!)
This company didn’t give much thought to how they decided to communicate their message of bringing workers back to the office, and as a result, people pushed back, resigned entirely, or showed up at the office feeling resentful and disgruntled.
The company missed multiple steps to gain buy-in from their valued employees. Let’s take a look at what those steps, when executed successfully, entail.
Consider the Insights Discovery Color Energies
Many of you reading this are familiar with the four color energies in Insights Discovery, a personality assessment that measures your preferences in the workplace. These preferences impact everything we do from how we built trust and construct relationships to how we plan (or don’t plan) and get our work done.
One of the most important areas the Insights Discovery workshops focus on is Communication. Why? Well… how many times have you been misunderstood? How many times have you misunderstood somebody else? A great many! I thought so. Me, too.
When we’re misunderstood, we get frustrated, we don’t produce desired results, we lose trust… and the list goes on.
We know that the measure of communication is the response you get. So if you want the message to land, you need to consider not just the message itself, but the components of the message and for whom the message is intended, as well as the wider audience.
-The Insights Discovery Group, Ltd. 2019-2020
With that in mind, think about the message you are trying to communicate right now in your organization or your life. In order to ensure that your message is truly heard, understood, accepted and acted on, you must meet the needs of all four color energies.
Think back on the example of the company who bluntly directed all their employees to return to the office in seven days. It’s easy to see that they didn’t put much effort into earning buy-in from their employees, which is a major reason the message went over like a ton of bricks.
The 4 Ps of Communication
Here’s a model from Insights called “The 4 Ps of Communication.” The 4 Ps align directly to the Insights Discovery color energies and greatly help create cohesive communication.
Establish the Current State: What is the purpose of the change?
- This P is represented by Cool Blue Energy.
- Demonstrate the logic and the well-researched rationale behind your message.
- Present the relevance of the information you are sharing.
- Give supporting evidence, including needs and benefits.
Create the Future and Show the Gaps: What is the longer-term big picture, or vision?
- This P is represented by Sunshine Yellow Energy.
- Paint a compelling vision for what is possible.
- Connect with a creative and far-reaching goal.
- Provide a visual image, metaphor, personal story, or slogan.
Attend to the Impact on People: How will this affect people? Who are the key stakeholders? What are the parts to be played by each, right down to what is expected of individuals?
- This P is represented by Earth Green Energy.
- Recognize the effect on people.
- Connect with feelings, values, and role interdependence.
- Acknowledge political realities and commit to learning from the past.
Lock Down the Next Steps: What is the plan for success?
- This P is represented by Fiery Red Energy.
- Propose a call to action.
- Present a goal-directed and time-focused plan with clear expectations and next steps.
- Describe how success will be measured.
Keeping the 4 Ps in mind, can you imagine how our example company could have done a much better job of enrolling their employees in coming back to the office?
They missed a huge opportunity to follow the 4 Ps, which would have built trust, grown engagement, improved well-being, and created a kick-ass culture of the future for their employees! Instead, they alienated many important people and lost others completely by trying to “order” them back to their desks.
Don’t make the same mistake they did.
No matter how big or small your communication, remember to meet the needs of all four color energies using the 4 Ps model. I’d love to support you as a leader in your organization. Let’s connect and talk more about Insights Discovery, the 4 Ps, or whatever leadership challenge you are facing today. Reach out to me directly here .