Ten tips…for communicating change
Here are my ten tips to think about when you need to announce and manage corporate change:
1. Understand the change that you need to communicate
First things first, you really need to understand what the change actually is. What does this look like and how does this affect people in the company. Have clear messages ready. Make sure these messages are jargon free. Prepare a Q&A too and ensure your senior management team is there to support and answer any difficult questions.
2. Communicate as soon as possible
Change management is most effective when it is factored in and begins at the initiation of a project. It should not be a reactive tool, but rather a form of communication that supports a change project from the very beginning. This integrated approach means that employees feel like they understand the change and are a part of it – rather than being told about it once it is happening or has happened.
3. One size does not fit all
Think about the different people in your organisation: from different job types, levels and functions to different personality types. Be ready with various styles of communications and various channels. Different people need to hear the message in different ways.
4. Think about your communication channels
If you’re expecting to communicate change effectively by just sending one or two emails, then think again. Think about a holistic approach to communicating.
5. Be as open and transparent as possible
The senior leadership team can sometimes be a bit wary of this tactic, but this is absolutely key. Share as much information as you can.
Make sure that your employees hear the original message directly and as soon as possible. This limits gossip and rumour which damages engagement and the employer brand.
6. Give people a voice
Make people feel a part of the process, and that they have a say. This is easiest if you have started communications from project initiation. Set up channels for employees to ask questions and ensure that you respond to them and publish these responses openly.
7. What do you want the outcome to be?
You need to really understand what you want the outcome to be. This needs to be realistic. Don’t expect to achieve record employee satisfaction survey results if you have just made 40 per cent of staff redundant. Set realistic outcome objectives and keep checking in and measuring these to see where you are.
Don’t be afraid to rethink your plan. If the channels you are using don’t appear to be working, try something else. Just remember to keep communication channels open.
Be open with staff regarding these objectives and results along the way.
8. A visible change management team
Communicate who is working on the change initiative and what each of their roles are. Its imperative that senior leaders are visible and leading from the top. Other members of the team may take on more hands on and interactive roles with employees.
Keep checking in with the senior leadership team. Make sure you have their full support and that you will be notified in the first instance if anything changes to the communication plan.
9. Engage your employees face to face
There is nothing more powerful than speaking face to face with employees through times of change.
Whether that is at an all staff town hall meeting held by the CEO or MD, via the senior leadership team to individual departments and business units or to individuals by their directors and/or line managers.
Employees want to hear about the change, the reason for the change and how it affects them.
10. Finally… employees are human
Remember the human element. Make communications personable. Town hall meetings and briefings need to be friendly.
You want your employees to feel as calm as possible.
“The World hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”