There’s lots of talk these days about effectively leading Generation X, Y and other demographic groups in today’s workplace. While each group has varying needs and interests, a very common need is understanding why team or organization changes are needed.

Parents and teachers from “The Boomer Generation” spent more time than their parents ever did explaining why and engaging kids in understanding the reasons for learning, actions, or activities. Many family decisions that were made autocratically by parents in previous generations, now involved kids and gave them a say in the outcome.

So many workplaces wrestling with succession planning and generational changes are filling with people who need to understand why changes are needed before they’ll buy-in and take action to support what needs to be done. This increasing need for better education and communication is especially strong when trying to increase levels of customer service. Whether frontline servers will provide extra degrees of care, concern, and a helpful service attitude when helping customers deal with changing products, programs, or services, depends heavily on the server’s understanding and support for the change.

It’s amazing how many organizations will spend megabucks and megahours planning and executing powerful, slick campaigns aimed at their external customers. Many will then turn around and spend ten bucks and two hours bringing the people on board who ultimately decide whether those external advertising messages are fact or fiction. Blown moments of truth (contact or touch points with a customer and organizational staff) can quickly scuttle thousands or millions of dollars of external marketing and public relations. A few sour experiences with disconnected and uncaring frontline service staff will deflate customers’ perception of value much faster than customer service, marketing, sales, or public relations departments can expensively pump it back up again.

Here are key objectives of effective education and communications practices:

  • Build a compelling case and cause for change/improvement with clear and consistent messages.
  • Paint everyone into the big picture around the need for internal or external service/quality improvement.
  • Strengthen ownership/commitment for serving our customers and improving our team or organization.
  • Improve communication/feedback flows up, down, and across the team or organization.
  • Create a more transparent and open culture.
  • Use face-to-face communication as much as possible supplemented by electronic messages. You can manage with e-mail, but it’s a very poor leadership tool.
  • Develop a strong conduit for continuous organizational learning.
  • Increase trust levels.

If you’re leading change and improvement efforts do you have high ratings on these eight points? What scores would servers and others on your team rate you? If ratings are mediocre or low, do you know why?