3 Change Management Communication Tips from the Trenches

Change Management Communication Tips a cartoon character is confused by too many megaphones blaring at him

Change Management Communication Can Make or Break Your Plans
Organizational change is challenging enough on its own. Don’t make change more difficult by communicating it poorly.  Follow these three field-tested change management communication tips to improve your chances for success.

How Employees Feel About Change
The word “change” alone can make some employees wince and resist. They know change can mean:

  • More work
  • Different performance expectations
  • Learning new skills
  • Loss of power, knowledge, information or even job security

Why should employees eagerly accept changes to how work gets done?

Leaderships’ Role During Change
Leaders are expected to present the rationale for change in a way that persuades employees that the new way will be worth the effort — for their sake and for the sake of the company.  What leaders most often forget is that they have had plenty of time to get used to the change they propose. They have probably contemplated what needs to happen, discussed with the senior team how to go about it, and analyzed the different steps required to make it happen – typically behind closed doors!

Now that it’s time to share the plan with the general workforce, leaders are apt to cover things too quickly or to vastly under appreciate all of the discussions it took to get to where they are today.

Avoid Change Disconnect
Avoid the disconnect that can alienate your employees to the necessary concept of change. Assuming that you cannot actively involve them in the change process from the beginning, give those affected by change time to reflect upon your reasons for the change and encourage their questions so you can fill in any blanks. Trying to force change too abruptly will almost always backfire.

3 Change Management Communication Tips from the Trenches
Based upon over two decades of change management consulting, employees tell us that it is better to over-communicate and take the time to garner their support.

1.  Give Employees As Much Information As You Can
First, tell your employees why you feel the organizational change is vital to the success of the company as a whole. Paint a clear picture of what could happen if the change does not occur and what you expect will happen when it does. Tell them how it will affect them as teams and individuals.

Tell them what you know, what you do not know, and when you expect to be able to fill in the blanks.

2.  Accentuate the Positive
Because major organizational change takes time, you need to inspire your troops to the cause. People need to believe that the extra effort is worth it. While you should not sugarcoat the inherent risks, be crystal clear about how the change will specifically improve the status quo at the individual, team, and organizational levels.   The more specific and personal you can be, the better your chances of winning employees over from the start.

3.  Invite Employee Feedback and Active Participation
Give employees as much control as possible over the mechanics of the change you desire at the individual and team level. With a sense of ownership over the process, employees will feel as if they are part of a major initiative that will set everyone up for success.  The more you let employees “own” the change, the higher the probability that it will be fully adopted.

The Bottom Line
While organizational change is inevitable, it usually does not meet expectations.  To get change right, follow these change management communication tips.  Otherwise you risk falling short.

To learn more about how to successfully initiate change management communications, download 6 Critical Questions to Properly Initiate Change

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