Leaders develop a vision and strategy in response to shifting markets and future trends and inevitably organisational change follows.
Change management practice is applied but not always well executed. Experience has shown me that as a change manager a communication and engagement plan is essential to the success of change.
Communication is the golden thread of change management. You can never over communicate!
Here’s 10 things to think about when you’re communicating change:
1. Change is hard. Having a project plan is great but it will not take into account how people feel and behave. Aware change managers know how to adapt their approach and communicate change to different groups and organisations.
2. Engage your people. Ask them what they think and really listen to what they say. Give them many opportunities to express their concerns, to vent, ask questions, and make suggestions. Build in feedback loops. The more you involve your people the more likely they are to stay and be on board with the change.
3. Know exactly what is changing and why. Make the link and make sure you articulate it and repeat it often. People won’t change if they don’t understand why change is needed and what new behaviours are expected.
4. Be clear about what you want to achieve from both the change and your communication plan! Each communication on the change journey will have a specific call to action.
5. Involve the communications' team early this will help keep rumours and fear in check. The communications' team will know how the organisation responds to change and what people need to know. People want to hear about the strategy and vision from the chief executive and how it affects them from someone they know and trust like their manager or team leader.
6. Share information early and often. If people don’t know what’s happening they’ll fill the vacuum for others in the organisation and your clients. If they believe that they don’t know the whole truth they are more likely to start looking for another role, just in case.
7. Balancing how much you communicate with the quality and consistency of your communication is critical. Ensure key messages are shared at the right time. Be honest, if you don’t have all the answers – say so!
8. Use a variety of modes to communicate. Don’t get stuck in the email mode; use chief executive and manager blogs, organisation newsletters, internal social media, stand up meetings, team days, and face to face meetings to get your message out there.
9. Keep in mind that sharing strategy and design, consultation and process documents won’t meet your change communication needs. The process is part of the communications plan but not the whole story.
10. Change takes time. Changing behaviours, and process is often underestimated, and the communications plan may need to stay in place for a year or more.