Communicating When Change Is About To Take Place

“Here’s what’s happening, and here’s what you can expect.”

examples of organizational change
Interior view of an aircraft cabin, looking forward to the flight attendants


With these words, the pilot on a recent flight let us know that there was going to be a delay. She explained why (storms on our flight path), how long we could expect to be delayed (90 minutes!), and that we, as passengers, had options and agency.

We could choose to disembark, to get off the plane and find another way to get to the destination.

Or we could wait patiently, with the knowledge that we would fly out once the storms were over.

Ten minutes later, she had an update.

There was still a delay, but it had shortened to only 60 minutes. Rather than allowing everyone to return to the terminal and then re-board at the new departure time (an initial option), she recommended that we all stay in the plane as this would make for an earlier take-off.

examples of organizational change
Was I frustrated at the delay? Sure.

Did I blame the airline? No, because I was immediately aware that heavy storms were affecting the whole ecosystem.

Did I feel respected? Absolutely!

This is such a great example of Change Communications:

‍✈️ The pilot saw there was going to be a problem.
‍✈️ She communicated the context to the people affected by the issue.
‍✈️ She outlined the options we had open to us – change our travel plans, wait in the terminal, or wait on the plane.
‍✈️ She invited us to make the decision that was best for us as individuals.
‍✈️ She told us that she would could expect an update within 10 minutes.
‍✈️ Her update informed us of some changes (we would be able to take-off earlier than initially expected). And revised the options (stay on the plane rather than wait in the terminal).
‍✈️ She made sure that we were given resources to make the best of the situation. Close the blinds to keep the sun out. Run the APU so there is air conditioning in the cabin. Serve water to everyone.
‍✈️ And then, finally, the good news that we were able to depart at the earlier time. With everyone on board, we did not lose a further 40 minutes in re-boarding the flight.

I think that everyone on that flight appreciated the open and proactive communication from this pilot.

✅ It reduced tension and stress.

✅ We were given options and invited to have agency.

✅ And we felt respected and included in this small change process.

Now, imagine if everyone in your organization felt the same way because of how you communicated with them about change? examples of organizational change

Read more of my ideas about Communicating Change.

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