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Complete the following in your post: Reflect on the communication failures you have witnessed in organizational change efforts, and answer the following:

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· What was communication failure?

· What communication needs were not met?

· What was the result of these failures in communication?

· What needed to be done to correct this problem?


Answer each question. Ensure you post the questions and then respond under the questions. (Copy questions and discussion item into your response and make each a header)


Getting the Vision Right

Much has been written about the importance of vision in leadership and specifically in organizational change efforts (Kotter, 2012), the idea being that clarity of this vision will become an aligning and galvanizing force, driving efforts and resources toward the needed change. There is some truth to this, but it is an incomplete truth.

It is too easy for a leader to run into a “blind spot” with his or her own vision alone. The vast majority of leaders are better served engaging their upper-level and mid-level teams for the feedback needed to avoid that type of “blind spot” problem. Vision is only as good as the problems it effectively addresses and the future it can bring to the organization. It is only as good as the future positioning that it creates for the organization to maximize its strengths, minimize its weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities that arise from this new position, and alleviate threats to organizational survival and success.

In a real sense, vision is about belief in a targeted future. So how do leaders miraculously attain this perfect vision? The answer is they do not, at least they do not do it effectively alone, although many leaders mistakenly act alone. Good vision gets built over time. It includes understanding the need and pain in the current organizational environment, coupled with monitoring the external environment for trends, new technologies, new processes, new markets, customer need, new opportunities, an expected future with clarity about the organization’s role in that future, and so forth. The list is large and growing every day, so good leaders must be prudent in developing accurate feedback loops to stay informed in order to have the knowledge base needed to develop an effective vision. In addition to this knowledge base, the vision cannot be created in a vacuum, meaning the leader develops the vision and everyone else implements it. A good vision will need to stand up to intense and difficult critical scrutiny from knowledgeable individuals in multiple areas, and good leaders will want this scrutiny and not avoid it or use their power to keep it from occurring, because this critical reflection and scrutiny of the vision coupled with the dialogue of knowledgeable individuals from various areas covers “blind spots” and ensures that the vision developed and the strategy to get there are evidence-based, and not wishful thinking.

The bottom line is that vision is only as good as the work that has been done by the leader to build it and develop it in the organization and the deep-seated belief of employees and other organizational stakeholders in that vision and its hoped-for outcomes. Part of that deep-seated belief is based upon the relationship between the leaders and the employees. If the relationship is based upon earned trust, employees will be much more likely to believe in the vision of the leaders. If the relationship is not good or is “iffy,” employees will want a lot of information to be convinced and become “true believers” in the vision. For leaders, the relationship with employees will often be a powerful determining component of our effectiveness in leading organizational change efforts successfully. Honest, hard-hitting two-way communication with knowledgeable employees is one of the best defenses against developing a poor vision, a misguided vision, or wishful thinking that is at best a fantasy.

Communicating the Change Vision

Leaders have multiple roles in organizational change efforts. Because of other role demands and sometimes a mistaken mindset, leaders usually do not give communication the time it needs and, more importantly, the respect it deserves. Kotter (2012) likes to ask leaders, how many employees will be affected by this change? Initially, most leaders will pick a number they believe to be about right, but after further questioning about the people and processes being affected, those needing to “be in the loop,” and so forth, it quickly becomes apparent to leaders that their initial number is much too low, often by a factor of 10 or more.

In working with leaders in change efforts, when asked about how they communicate with their employees, the vast majority will think of a list of how they communicate to employees (one-way communication), but rarely speak of how they communicate with employees (two-way communication, opportunities for needed dialogue, feedback loops, etc.). This is a problematic mindset for leaders with regard to communicating effectively in an organizational change effort.

The unfortunate truth is that many leaders treat communication as a back-burner issue and as a vehicle to disseminate information, rather than a tool to drive, monitor, maintain, and sustain the organizational change effort. It is very easy to under-communicate in a change effort, but difficult to over-communicate (Kotter, 2012) if the communication is real and if it is two-way communication, and not just email blasts and other forms of mass information dissemination.

Most leaders also do not know that the most important communicator for employees in an organizational change effort is not the organization’s primary leader, but the employee’s direct supervisor. These supervisors are the key communicators for employees. They are the local leaders that “filter and translate” the communication from above into the reality of what that means in their work area, in their silo, in their processes, and for the individual roles of employees. These are the individuals who answer questions, make meaning and sense of directives, and interpret what the higher-level communications mean at the local level. With all of this, they are rarely given any kind of serious preparation for these new demands thrust upon them to be effective communicators in organizational change efforts. Preparation and support of these key local leaders is critical for organizational success, but unfortunately is usually not done well or at all by most organizational leaders.

Finally, too many leaders at various levels do not “walk the talk” in organizational change efforts, and employees are quick to see incongruence in the espoused rhetoric of leaders compared to their actual behavior. Leaders often undermine their own change efforts by not “walking the talk,” and by not monitoring the behavior of all of the leaders leadership team to be sure that this incongruence does not occur. As a leader, your actions, behaviors, decisions, policies, etc., all communicate to employees. Remember, much of human communication is nonverbal and almost all-human communication is interpreted and meaning is made of that behavior, action, or event. The bottom-line is to monitor yourself and your leadership team so that you speak with one consistent voice both thought and actions, so that employees can trust and believe you and the change effort.


Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. ISBN 9781422186435.

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