Communicating in Times of Change

So, you are a leader and you think that an email announcing change is adequate as a ground-breaking step from you.

Once the announcement has been made, the bugles have been played, you assume that people will neatly fit into their existing roles and execute what is expected from them. After all change is a constant and every one was told that during the on boarding process. Right?

Not so fast.

In the book, Leading for a Change, the author Ralph Jacobson talks about the importance of defining the roles in times of change.

The leader thinks that people are seeking leadership and the leader feels that they are providing exactly that. However, in reality, people are also seeking how they fit into the puzzle of change and how their roles are aligned towards the end result.

Some of those roles also need to be those that guide the leader and challenge the leader when a wrong step is taken. The leader needs to create that space of openness and safety, so that people can voice their concerns.

When communicating in times of change, a leader needs to clarify roles and responsibilities that help promote a healthy check and balance on the leader’s actions. The comfort zone is vanishing and uncertainty abounds. The leader needs every bit of support and guidance from subordinates during this time.

When people feel comfortable talking to the leader and expressing their opinions, they are more willing to help the leader achieve his goals. After all, change is not a one man job. The effort takes a village.



How to Say No in Writing

A few years ago, I sent some information via email to an acquaintance of mine and asked them if they would be interested in learning more. The reply was just ‘No’.

It is true that the question was asked in a way that the logical answer would be either a yes or a no, but if you are interested in connecting with people through your communication, it is understood that a slightly detailed answer would be more helpful.

A more detailed answer would be especially useful in situations where you need to interact with colleagues and customers.

Unfortunately, many times people don’t realize that a detailed answer is to their benefit not detriment. A terse answer is the beginning of miscommunication.

So, in this case the answer might have been better presented if the writer had said:

‘Thank you for your query. I appreciate you sending us this document; however, please note that at this time we are unable to pursue the matter further. You are welcome to send us the additional information. If the need arises, I will contact you.’

The edited email above says no (at this time), helps retain the connection, and is to the point. The person replying is essentially saying the same thing as the first email but in a softer and more gentler way.

Try positive approaches in your emails. You might be pleased with the results.






Change Perspective with Questions

Very often we are faced with situations where we think the answer is in black and white. We pass statements that resemble decrees e.g. she is difficult or this is impossible. There is to be no further discussion on the topic. The answer is etched in stone. And despite the fact that the answer seems so correct to us, we are upset and unhappy.

Time to change perspective.

In the book Choose Yourself by James Altucher, the author talks about how such black and white determinations make a person unhappy and a real cool way out of such scenarios is to reframe the limiting thought into an expansive question.

So, ‘she is difficult’ will become ‘she is difficult?’ and ‘this is impossible’ will become ‘this is impossible?’

By changing the statement to a question, you open yourself up to a conversation or dialog and you learn to accept things out of your control.

Also by stressing less and accepting other possibilities, you start focusing on more important things and end up achieving more.

Try the questions technique and let me know how it worked for you.


About the Author: Warda Zaman is an HR/OD Consultant and a Case Study Writer who helps organizations leverage their success. To find out how you can leverage your case studies, please email


Giving for Leaders

In the book “Give and Take” by Adam Grant the author discusses the importance of giving vs. taking and says that a giving mindset helps in opening more doors and brings more people to your side than a taking mindset.

If leaders can embrace this paradigm shift, they might be able to see more engagement in their ranks and better employee morale.

Areas where I think this will help leaders are given below:

  • Providing resources proactively to subordinates so they can get things done
  • Spotting potential areas of conflict within department and handling them proactively
  • Giving positive feedback generously and in a timely manner
  • Giving advice/ coaching/ guidance about career paths
  • Giving hope and generating positivity

There are many areas in which leaders can be better givers.

The questions to ask everyday are: What can I give today? and How will I give today?

Leaders and HR Business Partners: Showcase your Best Work

As a leader and/ or HR Business Partner, a considerable part of your job is influencing key stakeholders with respect to important decisions or ideas. The desire on your part is to move people to action. Action, however, is one thing that is hard to come by because many stakeholders are still unsure about your credibility. Can you do what you say you do? How do you to it? What is the usual end result?

A movement in the creative industry is afoot which states that people are moved when you show your work. In fact, author Austin Kleon of “Show Your Work”, says that sharing is about process and if you share the what you do, you can build a following which in the business world can translate to building recognition and credibility.

Kleon says that showing your work is not just for creatives. It can help anyone who wants to be recognized. Therefore, the question for you is “Are you sharing your process?”

If not, then what is stopping you?

If you do not know how to show case your work, fear not. There are many ways to do so, and one of them is through case studies. In fact, in the book HR: The Business Partner, author Barbara Kenton and Jane Yarnall talk about the importance of building case studies for HRBPs, so that they can build their credibility with the people they have to work with.

Businesses are already improving their reputation and following through case studies, why not you?

Think about your future. Build case studies of your work and show the audience your capability. Get noticed. Go out there and influence well.





Positive Addiction for Leaders

I recently read a book called ‘Positive Addiction’ by William Glasser which the author talks about the importance of practicing certain positive habits  daily  in order to reap benefits in many other aspects of one’s life.

Positive addiction can take the form of daily yoga, running, mediation, or any other activity which can be practiced by oneself for an hour or so. The effect of doing this daily creates a profound impact and a desire to continue the activity because it makes one feel awesome.

With work and life around us becoming increasingly complex, developing positive addiction could be one way leaders can overcome the craziness of it all.

Instead of developing habits such as smoking or long uninterrupted hours at the computer or desk, leaders can think of hour- long activities such as running or meditation to positively impact their day and their performance.

I think the time has come for leaders to think of regular positive additions in their lives before work and technology completely take over. Action and commitment are the two main ingredients needed in this regard.