Often, after the initial marketing message to the staff of a transformational program, the executive communication is poor and limited to basic status reporting, which is always positive, until the program is in trouble. At that point, the startled executive team discovers it’s too late or too expensive to fix things.
Sometimes, there’s an assumption by stakeholders that executive communication is happening, but no one is actually doing it. In other cases, it is being done as “death by PowerPoint,” with endless presentations that don’t really facilitate communication.
Real executive communication drives action.
Sometimes, real change or transition management requires saying to an executive, “We have a problem, and the problem is you.” Other times, the executive actually doesn’t understand the program and requires one-on-one communication.
If executives are not aligned with the transformational program, there are basically two resistant behaviors to watch for:
Malicious compliance is the intentional behavior of an individual or organization that damages the program through actions designed to create perceived rather than actual commitment. This is an especially insidious passive-aggressive behavior.
Well-meaning resistance is behavior that can at first be mistaken for a lack of commitment, but in fact what it does is mask immediate operational priorities or issues, and delay or prevent individual or organizational commitment.
In this model, with both malicious compliance and well-meaning resistance, it is essential to dig below the veneer to truly understand the behavior and its causes.