Change Communications – Keep it Simple

Change Communications – Keep it Simple

A Simple Communications Approach for Managing Change

When big changes are afoot at an organization, it’s easy for everyone to get lost in confusion and become fearful of the unknown. Office moves. Changes in leadership. Acquisitions. These shifts are stressful for management and employees alike. A simple, strategic communications approach can curb unrest and instill confidence throughout a challenging process.

Consider the impact

An organization’s interests, goals and concerns are different from employees’ interests, goals and concerns. Although the big change at hand may be inevitable and non-negotiable, it’s still critical for leadership to treat employees with respect and empathy. If you disregard their perspective, then morale and productivity are likely to diminish. You’ll be perceived as not caring about what’s important to them. For example, in the case of a business relocation, leadership may be thrilled about new technology in the future office, and therefore focus on that. Meanwhile employees couldn’t care less. They’re more concerned about the new cost of parking, longer commute and the impact the move will have on their families. See change from an employee’s perspective. Address their concerns in addition to sharing what’s important to the organization.

Have a plan

Create a dedicated communications channel for change announcements so that employees have one place to reference for updates. Organize what you can share and when it makes it sense to share it. Identify what’s in flux and what is fact. Sometimes part of the plan is: There is no plan (yet) and that’s okay. Communicate to employees that change is a journey, not a blueprint. The most critical part of your communications plan is that you listen – not that you have all the answers. Be honest about what you can’t share yet, and let folks know when they can expect an update.

Answer questions and acknowledge fears

The worst thing you can do is ignore questions. To manage Q&A efficiently, explain how you’d like to receive questions and how and when you’ll answer them. In some cases, your response may not satisfy a question, but it will assure employees that you’re listening and that you care about the dialogue, which is paramount. Think about it: the actual cost of parking can wait. Whether or not you respect an employee’s feelings cannot. Just write back. Acknowledge questions and concerns. It’s that simple!

Now about fears. When concerns arise – and they will – affirm and confirm. Send the message: We all have fears about this change, including us. But, we’re in this together, and we’ll get it all figured out as a team!

Give information as one voice

Avoid conflicting stories and rumors. Centralize updates and establish advocates in your leadership team. Make sure they understand the mission, are prepared to encourage others and know where to direct employees for updates.

Evaluate communications

Do this by inviting and collecting feedback. It can be via email, in-person meetings, or anonymous web form. Just keep the door to dialogue open so that you understand what your employees are thinking and feeling. Ask, for instance, if they have what they need to establish their new commute, or if they understand the new remote work policy. Just ask.

Consider the impact

Have a plan

Answer questions and acknowledge fears

Give information as one voice

Evaluate communications

Simple!

Looking for help with internal communications? That’s one of our areas of expertise. Get in touch with us!

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Gretchen

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team Zum
tim@graphicdesignhero.com