Tips for communicating change!

Every organization at some point in time will have to announce some type of change in the workplace. It’s right up there with death and taxes – we can count on it!

The changes may be new or updated technology; changes in leadership (a new supervisor hired in a department); or changes in policies for one reason or another.

The way in which changes are communicated will determine how successful the changes are understood and adopted by the employee group. Having been involved in a number of change initiatives in various organizations I can tell you with from experience, communicating effectively is a must!

You can never over-communicate a planned change – and in particular – to those most impacted.

Simple (but not easy) steps to think about in your communications:

  • Leadership must support the change (even if in fact, they may not agree they shouldn’t share that with subordinates)
  • Rationale for the change must also be communicated clearly – help make it make sense
  • Be sure to ask for questions from those impacted and listen to what is said – dialogue with the impacted parties is very important – otherwise your employee buy in is hampered
  • Communicate consistent messages – and communicate them often
  • Use a number of ways to communicate – speaking, writing, video, training, focus groups, bulletin boards, Intranets
  • Communicate what you know, when you know it – you may not know everything up front – that’s O.K. – tell what you do know and be honest about what you don’t yet know
  • Be honest about what you don’t know and above all – do not make things up – you will destroy trust
  • While I know this has been mentioned above already; I am going to repeat that you need to encourage dialogue – allow people to ask questions – you don’t just want to present information – you want the employees to accept the changes, so they must feel involved
  • Even though a change may impact one group of employee more than another; it is still advisable to keep everyone in the loop – this will avoid gossip and fear mongering – and will also provide an opportunity for people to safely explore new behaviours and ideas about changes

While I realize this list is rather simplistic (change management typically requires a well thought out communication plan and will take time to develop) the idea here is to think about making an actual communication plan and having distinct steps to take toward successfully implementing change.