When it (might) rain on the parade

Difficult decisions are made on a daily basis. But making “the call” is only the first step. The second step is ensuring the decision is properly communicated if you want it to be successfully executed.

In order to make a reasonable and responsible choice all points of view must be looked at; experts should be consulted and various “Plan B” scenarios will need to be tested for viability. And all this will likely happen with a time crunch hanging over your head.

However, it is not often the decision that makes or breaks you. It’s the way you bring it to light. Here are five key points you should think about when preparing to communicate a big decision.

Develop a focused narrative

At the heart of every decision there are a set of core reasons that made all other options unfeasible. These reasons should remain at the forefront of all communications after the decision has been made.

Communicate the rational for your decision to all the stakeholders involved in the project provides them with the opportunity to better understand your position and therefore can help reduce or prevent any negative responses to the decision.

Layout the assumptions you made; the facts you were using; why you chose to make the decision and the sources of the information you used for making the call.

Talk to your stakeholders first

This is anyone whom a decision has a direct effect on. Think about who will be most affected by your decision. Who will have to do the leg work to make your decision possible? Who’s going to have to change plans because of this decision? Who will need to understand your reasoning more?

Once a narrative has been agreed upon, divide your resources to ensure you have the best opportunity to speak with all stakeholders personally before they hear from other sources. This helps to prevent confusion during the process of actioning the plan. 

Prepare for leaks

While you will want to do your best to ensure you are delivering the news personally, chances are someone will know before you tell them.

Although many can be understanding that news travels faster than you can pick up a phone or click to send an email, be prepared for those who aren’t. It is your responsibility to take them through the narrative of the decision and it is their prerogative to assess what you said against what they heard and to develop their on conclusions. Again, if your reasons are logical and justified then this will work in your favour against the grapevine.

Remain active across social media

Speaking of the grapevine, you need ensure you closely monitor and respond to all comments, likes and shares across all your social media platforms, as well as other relevant social accounts.  

This is the environment where people will express their most honest options and share their personal views on what other responses could have been explored. It is also the place where the trolls might join the party.

Here, again, it is important to listen to what is being said about your brand. Acknowledge other people’s views, share the reasons that you have identified as your decision making factors, and thank them for their interest and comments. Respond to rumours or misinformation with facts, and always be polite.  

Create a post-decision communication plan

Once the initial discussion around the decisions has happened, it is important to create a communications plan that highlights the reasons for the decisions as well as the opportunities that have come from making that decisions.

Go back to the key values of your brand and use them to help shape this plan. Ensure you are clear about any timelines for your project and that all stakeholders remain up to date on the progress of the key deliveries.  

Conclusion

By following these guidelines when communicating your big decision, you will receive stronger support for the decision, and that support should translate to better understanding of what is happening and success in the execution of the decision.

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