In these difficult economic times, organizations are looking for ways to be effective and efficient among seemingly overwhelming changes. Within the Department of Defense, Secretary Gates has called for organizations to allocate resources wisely, stating that, “we must significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our business operations.” One DOD organization that is embracing efficiency at full speed is the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, N.M. To facilitate buy in from employees during a period of change, simple communication is a must as Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant explains in his new “Commander’s Corner” commentary “Communication: Leadership Responsibility 24/7.”
One of the first steps in the change process was that leaders at AFOTEC needed to be on the right page in order to communicate the changes, and this involved providing them with the right tools and messages. This gave them the understanding and buy in they needed to discuss changes with their employees. Leaders and subordinates are held responsible for communicating and seeking understanding throughout the change process.
Maj. Gen. Sargeant emphasizes that in order for an organization to survive changes, leadership needs to involve employees. Communicating forthcoming changes is just the first step, but it doesn’t ensure that transitions will go smoothly. Taking the extra step of making sure that employees understand is crucial for sustainable change. Staff must not only know what changes are taking place but must also know why change is necessary and what their role is through it all.