Communication is the vital key

Effective communication with staff is vital to the success of change
management, according to former chief executive of the London Borough of
Lambeth Heather Rabbatts.

Speaking at the HRD 2000 conference, Rabbatts said her own experiences at
the beleaguered authority had driven home the importance of telling people
within the organisation what was going on.

She said it was important to ensure the consistency of the message being
communicated.

"If you do not align what you are saying to your people in your
organisation and what you are saying to the public you will come unstuck. You
have to engage honestly with people about what is going on."

Although she accepted the importance of electronic communication methods,
she warned against using it as a replacement for traditional means of sharing
information in the office.

"It does not capture the essence of communication."

In order to keep staff motivated, Rabbatts said it was important to
implement initiatives that put "runs on the board", in terms of
easily recognisable successes.

In Lambeth she drove forward a scheme to ensure all public lights on local
estates were functioning correctly.

In addition, she stressed the importance of allowing staff to make
decisions.

"Nine times out of 10 it does not matter what decision you make – just
make the decision."

Rabbatts also highlighted maintaining the momentum of change as a key
component of change management. Motivation needs to be considered in terms of
how people are incentivised and rewarded, she said.

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