Visual Management: A New Way of Communicating Change

Even if you’ve never heard of visual management, you’ve probably been exposed to it! Have you seen instructions labeled with green, yellow, and red? These traffic colors are so ingrained in society to indicate go, slow down, and stop that they don’t require additional explanation; it’s clear by the color what action you ought to take. This is the heart of visual management: no over-the-top explanations or instructions are required to perform a task successfully, even in a new environment. Leading through visual management includes communicating instructions or information using colors, diagrams, flow charts, and more.

Why Visual Management, and why now?

As businesses make decisions regarding returning to the office, it will be challenging to help employees adapt to a new work environment or schedule. Using visual management to relay information to employees can help make the return-to-office transition easier.

Visual management allows employees to feel “in-the-know.”

As employees transition from working at home back to the office, they need to know what is required of them. Sharing detailed instructions visually is crucial to helping employees understand and retain the information you’re communicating.

Visual management helps employees see the entire picture.

Growing up, did you learn about the process of photosynthesis? You likely were taught it in elementary school, but large words like “photosynthesis” were complex and difficult to remember at the time. Instead, a diagram of brightly-colored pictures with arrows helped you to understand how all of the elements -- plant cells, the sun, carbon dioxide, etc. -- worked together to produce oxygen.

In many ways, visual management in business is similar! Your employees don’t need to know how the entire business runs in detail, but they need to see the big picture to understand how events impact their department. This is doubly important when returning to the office.

Visual management provides an opportunity to measure.

As a business leader, you have a lot to analyze, from people to performance. Visual management gives employees a clear picture of their responsibilities, which makes your job of analyzing much simpler. You can also communicate your findings to employees more clearly using visual tools. Your team is more likely to improve when they see the measurements, the gaps, and their role in making things better.