“When change initiatives fail, the culprit is often a lack of communication.” (Source: Torbenrick)
Due to fear or a prior negative experience, many people are uncomfortable with change. However, without change, there cannot be growth. Those embracing transitions know that frequent and transparent communications can make it manageable.
Since the team implementing the initiative may be overwhelmed with other details, having a communications expert focused on messaging, timing and execution can be beneficial. Based on experience, here are some of the guiding principles:
- Communicate throughout the process. Many companies wait until everything is final and ready to be announced, but that can be problematic. It’s better to bring employees along throughout the process, so they can absorb the information in smaller pieces and over time. Then, when the final announcement is made, people are ready to act as you intended.
- Test your messaging. “At all levels of the organization, the employee’s direct supervisor has the most influence over what people hear and respond to.” 2 Practicing your messaging on selected employees representing a variety of levels/functions first will offer insight into how the news will be received. These employees also may become champions for your message and invaluable in helping others digest the information. Think about your various audiences and how the change will affect each one differently.
- Use a variety of delivery methods. Everyone has a preferred method for comprehending information. Some may favor meetings with the opportunity to ask questions in the moment and others want to read an email or newsletter article with more time to process. It’s important to vary the ways in which you communicate, keeping in mind that the message must be presented clearly, authentically and with integrity.
- Engage an internal resource or consultant. The earlier you involve a communications person in the process, the more likely you will reap effective results. As experts, they will ask insightful questions for both content and timing. Trying to “catch someone up later” might be a lost opportunity.
- Be transparent. It is not essential to have all the answers before sharing information. Including your employees in the process is a humbling way of building their overall trust and will yield a more productive result.
Change is inevitable. You can manage it with clear and transparent communications or get managed by it. Since one-time messages seldom are retained, developing a strategy that engages a variety of mediums for a period of time can be much more effective. These efforts will build engagement, pride and trust in the company and its leadership.
1 – http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/06/19312.html
2 – http://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/change-management/communication-is-paramount-when-it-comes-to-change-management/
3 – http://humanresources.about.com/od/changemanagement/a/change_lessons2.htm