Cultural Change Communication: Uncover and Use “Moments of Truth”

Occasionally a leader will encounter a moment that provides the ideal opportunity to act decisively, publicly, and perhaps disruptively – and that moment becomes a cornerstone upon which more momentum is built. These moments are not easily planned, as they are most often the fortuitous intersection of a leader’s clear resolve with an unexpected “moment of truth:” a situation that status-quo leaders would miss entirely.

These moments of truth become folklore that quickly spread through the most reliable and fastest communication channel: rumor and word of mouth. Smart internal communications teams can capitalize on these moments and give them even greater visibility.

For example:

In the late 1990’s, Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, visited stores across the country to clarify what great customer service should look like. During his visits, he frequently told the story of a customer who wanted to return a set of tractor tires to a Home Depot store in Long Island, NY.

The store manager knew that Home Depot had never sold tractor tires, but when he learned that the previous business tenant occupying the same space had sold them, he offered the customer a fair price refund. He then used the tires to build a display in the store’s break room; it’s purpose was to communicate to all employees that this is the sort of length we must go to in order to serve our customers.

This one unplanned act became a powerful symbol of what true customer service looked like, and far exceeded any traditional communications approach that focused on words and messaging alone.

Chuck Allen is a VP Realm responsible for employee engagement and change communications. His extensive background in executive coaching and leadership has lead him to conclusions about life and work. “I work with leaders who want to leave less life on the table and build whole lives worth emulating.”

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