By Stephen Haslam and Robert Pennington, Ph.D., Resource International

This is the fifth in an eight part series on Balancing Authority and Collaboration

The 5th Key: Communicate “The 4 P’s of Transition”

Earlier in this series we explored how resistance to authority inhibits collaboration, and why it is important to address employee’s concerns without relinquishing authority by asking permission. The 4 P’s of Transition is a valuable model in this balancing act when communicating about strategic changes.

People will be more motivated to work toward a strategic objective or contribute to a project if they understand

(1) The Purpose; why we have to do this,

(2) The Picture: What it will look and feel like when we reach our goal,

(3) The Plan: Step-by-step, how we will get there,

(4) The Part: What you can (and need to) do to help us move forward. (Bridges)

The CEO, President, or highest Executive Sponsor is the best person to communicate messages that influence control over the direction of the business (Purpose, Picture, Plan), while the Direct Supervisor is most appropriate for messages that influence control over the direction of daily activities (Part). The most important messages to impacted employees fall into two categories.

  1. Messages about things: (from the CEO or President)
    1. Current situation and rationale for the change (Purpose).
    2. Vision of organization after change takes place (Picture).
    3. The basics of what is changing, how it will change, and when it will change (Plan).
    4. The expectation that change will happen and is not a choice.
    5. Status updates on the implementations of the change, including success stories.
  2. Messages about how the change impacts the employee:  (from the Supervisor) (Part).
    1. Impact of change on the day-to-day activities (WIIFM).
    2. Implications of change on job security (will I have a job?).
    3. Specific behaviors and activities expected from the employee, including support of the change.
    4. Procedures for getting help and assistance during the change.

The ultimate objective of using these techniques is to establish a work environment in which everyone feels safe to disagree so that communication is more open and work is more productive.

The 8 Keys To Balance Leadership Authority & Collaboration

  1. Position Power & Personal Power
  2. Expect resistance to authority
  3. Address levels of concern
  4. Don’t ask permission
  5. Communicate “The 4 P’s of Transition”
  6. Engage leaders at all levels
  7. Demonstrate respect to build trust and commitment
  8. Get tools in your tool belt

* Resources

Leadership Development: How to Get the Results You Need by Haslam and Pennington.

Reducing Resistance to Change and Conflict: A Key to Successful Leadership by Haslam and Pennington.

Kotter, John P. (2003).  The Power of Feelings, An Interview with John P. Kotter, Leader to Leader, No. 27, Winter 2003.

Bridges, W., & Mitchell, S. (2000).  Leading Transition: A New Model for Change.  Leader to Leader, No. 16, Spring 2000.

Hall, G. E., Wallace, R. C., & Dossett, W. A. (1973).  A developmental conceptualization of the adoption process within educational institutions (Rep. No. 3006). Austin, Texas: The University of Texas at Austin, The Research and Development Center for Teacher Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction No. ED 095 126).

Rob Pennington and Stephen Haslam work with leaders and managers.  Find out more at Resource International,