Why Your Digital Transformation Efforts Aren’t Getting Fully Adopted with Stefanie Krievins

Reading Time: 12 Minutes

In this episode with Stefanie Krievins learn how to architect change, including digital transformation.

Takeaways We Learned from Stefanie…

Communicate Authentically

Communicate as authentically as possible, as often as possible. Authentic communication builds trust and prevents misunderstandings. Don’t be afraid to show your true thoughts and feelings; it will resonate more with your team.

Embrace Your Leadership Voice

Your unique way of thinking and solving problems is what makes you successful. Consistently use your leadership voice to articulate your vision and strategies. People want to understand your thought process.

Understand the Challenge of Change

Change feels hard because it triggers our primitive survival instincts. Recognize this and approach change with self-awareness and self-management to navigate it effectively.

Develop New Skills

We have to learn new skills to do that. To thrive during change, commit to continuous learning and development. Upskill yourself and your team to meet new challenges head-on.

Balance Easier and Harder Changes

Change can be easier due to our growing experience with technology but harder because of its rapid pace. Manage the pace of change and ensure you and your team are healthy and well-rested to handle it.

Focus Your Communication

Leaders must communicate in a focused way so that their priorities are clear. Use every interaction to reinforce what is truly important to the team.

The 7x7x7 Communication Strategy

Communicate major initiatives with seven key messages across seven channels, repeated seven times. This structured approach ensures consistency and clarity in your communication.

Pragmatic Hope in Project Management

Don’t promise perfection. Be transparent about potential challenges and setbacks. This approach builds trust and prepares your team for realistic outcomes.

Coach Through Emotional Reactions

When your team experiences the emotional lows of change, don’t try to fix their emotions. Instead, coach them towards the next step and maintain a focus on problem-solving.

Invite Constructive Feedback

Encourage constructive feedback instead of emotional outbursts by fostering a culture of transparency and open communication. Regular updates and honest discussions can mitigate frustration and resistance.

About Stefanie Krievins

Stefanie Krievins is a trained coach and facilitator with experience in HR consulting and business coaching. She is the host of the Hot Mess Hotline, a podcast for ambitious leaders who want to drive impactful change. She’s the creator of The Change Architecture which provides a new framework for driving transformation in the 21st century.

Currently, Stefanie and her team at The Change Architects work with companies who are growing, innovating, scaling, and (digitally) transforming; but are stuck in the messy middle of change and are having growing pains. They need solutions to get their people and teams to tackle old problems in new ways, break down silos, and get communication and new results flowing again.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and executive business coach Allison Dunn. Our topic today is the number one communication mistake it executives are making. Our guest is Stefanie Krievins. She is the creator of the change architecture, which provides a new framework for driving transformation in the 21st century. She is the host of Hot Mess Hotline, love that name. It’s a podcast for ambitious leaders who want to drive impactful change. She and her team worked with companies who are growing, innovating, scaling, and digitally transforming, but are stuck in the messy middle of change, and are having growing pains. Stefanie, thank you so much for joining us here today.

Stefanie: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Allison: My pleasure. I love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation. What would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners today?

Stefanie: Number one leadership tip, I would say. And I don’t mean for this to sound cliche, but it is unbelievably true.

Communicate as authentically as possible, as often as possible. Yes, adapt when necessary. But use the words that you choose use the way of thinking that works for you. Because when you don’t people perceive you as being disingenuous.

And then interpret that into a million different squirrely ideas that involve you not working in integrity. So when in doubt, say what you’re really thinking and feeling and hearing and experiencing. Because that will land on the other side, much more effectively than you trying to be something that you’re not.

Allison: Yeah. That is a fantastic tip. And it takes I mean, you think communicating authentically would come super natural. But sometimes you have to go like, wow, I just said that meant. You already mean? Yes. Yes. It’s your ship voice consistently on how you think about things so that when you’re you are expressing it people like get it get it like, Oh, that makes sense for her or him?

Stefanie: Yes, yeah. And I think people want to understand what you’re thinking and how you’re thinking. And that’s part of the reason you’ve been successful is because of how you think about things, how you problem solve, how you articulate how you, you know, work through big challenges, continue to use that. I love that word that you use leadership voice. Yeah, being authentic is not easy. You know, for a variety of reasons. I think we’ve all received painful feedback that has caused us to withdrawal a little bit or tried to adapt too far. Or, you know, we show up into a new working culture, and they don’t do things the way you do things. So you try to adapt to that culture. And I’ve just seen too many times that it creates more tension than solves the problem. Yeah.

Allison: So let’s kick this conversation off around, change. And so you know, obviously, your work is change architecture. And so why does everyone think change is so hard, and I have a formula that I work through, but I would love your insights on this?

Stefanie: Oh, yeah, I would love to hear your formula, I have a couple of myself. First and foremost, change feels hard. Because when we are presented with a decision that has been made for us about our job, and usually it’s, you know, we’re presented with something at more of a strategic level, and our brain goes, Oh, my gosh, something is changing about your role and something is changing in the organization. Without self awareness without self management, our limbic system takes over. It’s the base of our brain. It’s the first thing that evolved with us as human beings that told us that in order to stay safe, we have to stay with our tribe, in order to hunt and gather and literally physically stay alive and stay safe from the saber toothed Tigers or whatever those things were that were also hunting us humans way back then.

That is not what most people’s fear is, or like what their danger level is, in the 21st century, especially folks listening to this podcast, don’t want to underestimate the folks that live in actual physical danger. For other reasons in the modern 21st century, that’s not what we’re talking about here. In the workplace, we get presented with, hey, our strategy is changing. And so that probably means your role is going to change in the next several years. And our brain goes into fight or flight. And it just goes into oh my gosh, I’m being separated away from my human so I’m going to die. So Whoa, change feels hard, because the very basic level of our humanity kind of takes over. That’s why we need self awareness. And sometimes change is hard.

Because we need attention to learn new systems, we need to ask better questions, we need to problem solve in a new way, in order to work in a new way we need we need to upskill in order to work in a new way. And so it is hard when we don’t have the skills that we need to adapt to the changing situation. And so that’s why I’m such a proponent of individual development plans. upskilling.

Because the God’s honest truth is that like, what it takes to get there is not exactly what got us here, skill level. And so in order to accomplish new results together, we have to learn new skills to do that.

And so I think that gap in self esteem, that gap in confidence usually rears its ugly head pretty quickly. And we all need support getting past that.

Allison: Do you think that we’re in a time and place that change is actually becoming easier? Or more difficult?

Stefanie: Both? How’s that for an answer? How’s that for a consultant’s? Answer. Um, in some ways, it is easier in particularly with IT leaders that we work with, you know, the change that is coming at us, we now have multiple decades of experience kind of working in that tech seeing how it evolves. You know, almost all of us that are desk workers know how to use Microsoft Office suites and adapt right and adapt from there and adapt to the technology.

It’s also harder, because it’s coming at us faster. And so there, it feels like there’s a lot of change to adapt all at once. Not true, we get to dictate the pace of change, you know, inside of our organizations, or as a leaders, we should be doing that anyway.

But then also as, as humans and America, we’ve never had more unhealthy sleeping patterns, working out patterns, nutrition patterns. And that all impacts our ability to pay attention, and to give attention and intention to the changes coming at us. You know, when you look at the sleep or sleep research, and we you know, Ariana Huffington brought this to our attention, if you’re coming to work with less than six hours of sleep a night, you’re clinically drunk. I don’t know how you can adapt to change when you’re clinically drunk. And so open to it. Yes. And you’re not open to it? Yes. When you’re resistant to change, I mean, resistance to change comes from such a variety of perspectives. You know, it’s, that’s, that’s a whole 30 minute conversation in and of itself, like, why we resist it. And that’s why I go to self management first, you know, it’s not the organization’s job to bring that awareness to us as leaders.

It is our job to understand our relationship with change, and then figure out better ways.

Allison: Yeah, that’s fair. And that’s such a helpful, healthy insights, change can be so hard.

Stefanie: It can feel hard. Yes, it can be it can feel hard, two different things.

Allison: We’re kind of hitting on like, number one communication mistake, and you said, you know, speaking to your authentic voice, but most executives think that they’re communicating all of the time, is you’re saying that they’re not getting enough communication? So why is not working here?

Stefanie: I love this question so much. I hear the same thing, right? Like, I mean, leaders, number one job is to communicate, and they’re like, we’ve talked about this project 17 times in the past three months, what do you mean, you don’t know what’s happening? So I think it points to organizational communication strategies, as well as individual leadership, communication strategies. Those need to go hand in hand, but they’re two separate things. And so as an individual leader, are you making sure that you’re communicating authentically? Are you making sure that you’re using every interaction to communicate what is truly top priority? Those are one on ones, those are staff meetings. Those are, you know, your Slack channels. Those are project management meetings. I think folks think that there’s not enough communication yet at the same time, we’ve never communicated in more bytes than ever before.

Because there’s so much coming at us. And so I think as an individual leader, finding opportunities, finding opportunities bless you, that you love when that happens. finding opportunities to focus your communication so that folks understand you know, where things fall in your priority list would be very, very helpful for a leader because you are leaders are communicating all of the time. Are you communicating in a focused way so people understand what your priority These are and then their priorities. And then when it comes to organizational communication, I advocate for a process I call 777. Actually, it’s seven by seven by seven. And every major initiative needs to be communicated with seven messages. So the messages are the results, the process, the people involved the relationship, what is going to change what is not going to change, I think I just gave folks six right there, right? Like, those are our messages. And so for our baby boomers and our older Gen Xers put all that information in one place, because we want to see all of it in one place. And then you break it down by message for our younger Gen Xers or Millennials or Gen Z years into your seven channels. So seven, your channels are just your way to distribute the information, right. So your Slack channels, your one on one meetings, your staff meetings, your TV board in the break room, if you still got a bulletin board by God put it up there. I know are my cybersecurity friends rely on that to equally valid, but you have to communicate it across multiple channels to get people’s attention.

And then you repeat that seven times. If it’s a major enough initiative, it deserves that kind of attention over an appropriate lifespan, lifespan of the project lifespan of the initiative, lifespan of the crisis, whatever that is, but using that structure forces you to repeat it, it’s why leaders have to think like marketers, you know, the same the same premises hold true in marketing, because this is what it takes to impact human behavior. Thus, some of the, you know, bookbags that I have off of Facebook market player Facebook ads, because I saw the adds a ton of time that created me that compelled me to action, which is buying that bookbag in the workplace. I was like, oh, we need some more of this. Um, and so as leaders, creating that organizational structure strategy, if you will, to communicate creates consistency that people can count on. That consistency creates a sense of certainty, that lessens their anxiety because of the uncertainty of change.

Allison: Love, love the seven rule that is fantastic. I’m going to kind of lean on something that I also think about when we think about like technology and innovative initiatives or digital gifts. So I know that a lot of leaders are sick and tired of the freakout that happens after new initiatives launched? Yep. What can they do to get constructive feedback instead?

Stefanie: Oh, yeah. Instead of the emotional feedback and that, yes, oh, my gosh, I just we just went through this with a client last year in the Slack channel blew up and to watch the condescension and the frustration and the stress come out. It’s heartbreaking, yes. And it kind of stinks because I was the consultant involved. And we’re hearing all this stuff. And they’re like questioning my intelligence. And I was like, Oh, this is the change curve in action. So I think one, as leaders, bringing change management, self awareness to your organization, can certainly help lessen the impact of that, or less than the freak out that happens. I’m a big fan of working in intentional project management process where you do a project launch with everybody, you’re as transparent as you can be about what you do know what you don’t know what could go right, what could go wrong.

Leaders need to exercise pragmatic hope. And basically what that means is, don’t be the leader, this like, this is going to go perfect, and on budget and on time, and all the most amazing unicorn things are ever going to happen.

Because your people are just sitting there going, man, is she full of malarkey? That is not how any of this is ever going to go.

But as leaders, that’s what we tend to do. And so instead communicate with pragmatic hope at the project launches, say, this is some awesome things. These are the problems that we’re actually fixing.

And so again, it goes back to transparency and authenticity. Don’t sugarcoat the problems that you’re trying to solve, because people pick up on that as disingenuous. So start the project with a really good project launch in the project with your people and being transparent with a really good project debrief, right like here’s, we said we were going to do these three things. Here are the five things we ended up doing. Here are the other hot messes. We ended up uncovering. Here’s why it went longer than we thought and do that periodically throughout the process to create some transparency for what is happening. You know, most folks don’t need full transparency and all of the work but continue to communicate how that project is unfolding.

And then recognize as leaders that the freakout is going to happen that is As the change curve, that is what people do, it’s the roller coaster of emotions, they just slide themselves right into that valley of despair or confusion land or depression land. However you want to describe that, and recognize that your job as a leader is to not fix those emotions for them, but to coach them into the next problem solving step.

So as a leader, you must be detached from their emotions, you might mean need to be detached from your own emotions, and help coach them into the next step. And invite them into the possibilities of what you’re fixing together.

And if they do not want to get themselves on board, invite them to the place where it makes sense for them to make a difference in this world. And that may no longer be on that team. Yeah. Because staying and resisting cannot should not must not be an option.

Allison: Yeah. Stefanie, the master of change architecture. Yes. Thank you so much for your time today. It has been such a pleasure talking this through. I’m going to put in the show notes, ways to get in touch with Stephanie, where you can find her on the worldwide web and all those things, and follow me I just so appreciate your time with us today.

Stefanie: Thank you. Thanks for this conversation and giving me this space and creating this platform. I appreciate it, Ali. My pleasure.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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