Daily Buzz: Empathy is Key to Organizational Change

Organizational transformations aren’t easy if your team members aren’t on board. Talk to them with empathy to make the transition run smoothly. Also: how to communicate a membership dues increase.

If your association is rethinking its business strategy, the end result might require large organizational changes. And if that isn’t challenging enough, you’ll need to get your whole team supporting those new measures—and they might do so reluctantly.

Research on organizational change shows that in order to lead a successful transformation, leaders need to communicate empathetically. But many leaders don’t do this. In fact, 50 percent of executives leading change said they hadn’t considered their teams’ sentiments, according to another study from Duarte, a communication consultancy firm.

“I’ve observed the same thing time and time again: How information is communicated to employees during a change matters more than what information is communicated,” says Patti Sanchez, chief strategy officer at Duarte, in a post for Harvard Business Review. “A lack of audience empathy when conveying news about an organizational transformation can cause it to fail.”

To better promote empathy in leader-to-team communications, Sanchez suggests profiling employees at every stage of the transformation. “Change consultants typically advise leaders to create personas of various audiences when they kick-off a change initiative,” she says. “But, considering that people’s wants and needs will evolve throughout the process, you should reevaluate these personas during every phase of the journey.”

The Best Way to Communicate a Dues Increase

The reality of any business venture is that sometimes you have to raise prices. Associations are no different—except higher prices often translate to increased membership dues. And communicating that increase can be tricky.

“Most members understand that, in exchange for the goods and services provided by your organization, they pay a fee which supports your operations, continued growth and service of your mission,” says Amanda Myers on the Personify blog. “But while they’re willing to pay for their membership, are they willing to pay more?”

To avoid any backlash, Myers suggests being honest from the start and providing a thorough explanation for the increase. “Context is the friend of the dues increase,” she says. “As a nonprofit, members will appreciate associations aren’t trying to drive profit for shareholders, but without the benefit of understanding the rationale behind an increase, they may jump to their own conclusions.”

From there, consider offering a tiered membership plan to appeal to members who might be affected by the increase.

Other Links of Note

Social media comes with its own lingo and nuances, but the Hootsuite blog advises which terms to stay away from.

How you work—and the people you work with—can have a big impact on your sleep habitsInc. explains.

What’s your association’s disaster plan? Entrepreneur outlines strategies to prevent future problems before they happen.

(gustavofrazao/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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