You need a tremendous amount of high-quality communication to sustain a culture change. Managers typically underestimate the effort that is required. They rely on the normal communication practices and patterns, failing to consider that those methods were never designed for times like this. Standard communication procedures simply won’t cut it.

Consider the situation at hand. First, people need to hear the logic, the rationale, behind the decision to change the culture. Give them an airtight case, based on hard facts about the marketplace and the firm’s competitive position. Next, they want to know what’s coming, and how they’ll be affected personally. You must give them a clear understanding of what’s expected regarding new ways of work. You need to sell people on the purpose, preach hope, and explain the part they’re expected to play in the change strategy. The vision must be articulated, and then promoted with the zeal of a crusading evangelist.

And it doesn’t stop there. You can’t afford to let up. Don’t relax.

Talk up the new culture on every possible occasion—in meetings, memos, presentations, company publications, or the casual give-and-take of everyday interaction with others. Culture change needs lots of cheerleading.

Keep the dialogue going. Nonstop two-way communication is needed to offset the ambiguity, counteract the confusion, shift attitudes, and keep people on course. You can’t presume that ...

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