Powering Team Alignment with Body language in Organizational Changes
“Persuasion can go through obstacles that force cannot”- Yusuf Leinge
As a manager, oftentimes, you may get to know about large organizational changes that the CEO proposes before your team does, and you are given the job of communicating these changes to your team. While communicating these changes, you want to convince them about how these changes would work in the favor of their day-to-day operations. Now that can be a difficult mountain to climb, given how employees tend to be resistant to any proposed changes in the organization at first. This happens because changes bring along uncertainties and distance from familiarity with them.
When trying to get your team to see the benefits of such changes, it is imperative that you appear convinced about the changes yourself, because only then would your team feel assured that you will drive them safely towards success even amidst the uncertainties that the changes bring along. Therefore, it is important that you are able to use verbal and non-verbal communication which exudes persuasiveness and confidence at the same time.
It is also necessary to look like you’re open to feedback and detailed discussion regarding the changes, so that your subordinates see that you really care about what they think of the proposed changes and that you are not forcing any decisions upon them.
You strictly do not want to come across as aggressive when persuading your team about the brighter side of the proposed organizational changes, because that would only build up their resistance. It might plant a seed of doubt in them that you are being dominating because your argument about the necessity and merits of the proposed changes lacks a logical base and you want them to accept it without questioning it in any way. For the very same reason, you also want to take care to not appear defensive.
- When you are addressing your team, make sure that you make eye contact with each person for approximately 3 seconds at a time. As opposed to a sweeping glance across the room, this would make each one of them feel more invested in the discussion (Eggert, 2012). Your effort in doing so would surely make your address more persuasive.
- Try not to speak too fast, to ensure that your team comprehends and processes your message simultaneously, so that they clearly understand the benefits of the proposed change that you present (Eggert, 2012). Moreover, when you speak too fast, as you tend to take shallow breaths between speaking, your body might interpret this breathlessness as anxiety, which would then really make you anxious. And you don’t want to appear anxious while convincing your team, because they might then think that you are not completely sure about the effectiveness of the proposed changes despite your confident verbal statements.
- A bit of voice modulation in the form of increasing the volume and depth of your voice can go a long way in delivering a powerful and convincing message to your team (Eggert, 2012).
Check your body language for any signs of aggressiveness like clenching your hands into fists and holding them at your sides (James, 2012), or placing your hands on your waist (Pease, 1981). Also, avoid crossing your arms across your chest, or holding your hands in front of your body in any manner (except if you’re gesturing), because that would make you look defensive (Goman, 2011; James, 2012). As mentioned before, you want to look as open to discussion as possible so that your team is convinced that you must really believe in the proposed changes if you are open to face questions about them.
You also need to demonstrate through your body language that you’re actively listening to what your subordinates have to say about the proposed changes, so that they feel heard and do not think that you’ve already made up your mind about the usefulness of the changes and that you are not interested in what they think. To come across as an active listener, follow the acronym ‘SOLER’ given by Egan (1975), which stands for squaring facing the person you’re talking with, maintaining an open , non-defensive posture, leaning in towards the person, maintaining steady eye contact, and maintaining a relaxed posture.
- When gesturing, make sure your other upper body movements are minimal, because otherwise, your mind might interpret that your body is agitated, which might make you feel and look anxious and unsure of what you’re saying (Eggert, 2012). Also, watch your self-touching movements like touching your neck, face or ears; because they come across as pacifying gestures, and it might look like you’re nervous about say, a certain argument against the proposed changes that your subordinate raised. Any hint that you yourself are not sure about the effectiveness of the proposed changes might build up the resistance of your subordinates against it.
Thus, it might seem like there is a lot to watch out for when it comes to your body language as a manager, while introducing large-scale changes proposed by the top-level management in your organization. But remember that at the end of the day, when you want the best for your subordinates and your organization, most of the convincing and confident body language will come organically to you if you tap into your passion and critical thinking abilities while convincing yourself and your team of the good results that lie at the other side if you make the necessary changes at the right time. Your team will surely laud you for your efforts to adopt a considerate yet confident approach in leading them towards success in the long run.