4 Ways to Communicate Change to Stakeholders that Still Work Today

4 Ways to Communicate Change to Stakeholders that Still Work Today
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Communicate Change to Stakeholders — Your Plan for Change Success

Corporate change statistics are discouraging.  Reportedly, only 30% of corporate change initiatives succeed.  When we investigate the reasons for so many change failures and review our change management simulation data, the main culprit is how we communicate change — there is a lack of understanding, commitment, and alignment.

Effective Change Communication Means Active Stakeholder Involvement
Many change leaders believe that they have put together a workable plan for change, but they neglect to actively involve their key stakeholders. And it’s not so much the “what” of the change message that is misunderstood by employees, but the “why.”  When employees don’t “get” the rationale for change, they are likely to resist organizational change.

Prepare and Plan for Resistance
It’s only human nature.  The status quo is familiar; change can be threatening.  For successful change to occur, companies need to get all key stakeholders on board.  Whether the change has to do with organizational restructuring, leadership shifts, mergers and acquisitions, or changes in regulations, you need the support and commitment, rather than the pushback and resistance, of your workforce to make it happen.

How to Do It Right
One recent survey of over 500,000 employees found that almost 1-in-3 did not understand why the proposed organizational change was happening.  Don’t let that happen to you and your team.  Actively involving key stakeholders early and often and then follow these change communication best practices.

  1. Communicate the Vision
    Leaders of change need to communicate the necessity of change by clearly expressing why the change is needed and how it will be realized. Employees want to understand the big picture context and the path ahead.  Refer to the company’s core purpose and show how it will be sustained and improved by the change.

    Inspire the workforce with a clear and compelling vision for change of a better future, the agreed upon reasons that the status quo is dissatisfactory, and the practical and thoughtful business case for change.

  2. Communicate Regularly and Honestly
    Once is not enough. It is critical that you communicate the change regularly and in multiple venues.  Give your employees opportunities to question the plan and voice their issues.  Concerns are better handled in the open than allowed to fester in the dark.

    Be honest in your answers.  When you know, be clear and consistent.  When you don’t know, say so, then find out and share the answer.

    And be sure to make change communications personal.  Employees will be most interested in how the change will affect them personally.  Will their role be changed?  Will they have to learn new skills?  Will their team be left intact or shuffled?

  3. Communicate through Modeling
    Through their actions, leaders can effectively model not only the behaviors that the change will require but also their confidence that the change is good for business. The more thoroughly leaders understand the dynamics and challenges of change, the better they will be able to set the tone.

    Their acceptance of the change trickles down to managers and then cascades to employees.  When this happens, change is five times more likely to be successful.

  4. Communicate through Engagement
    Don’t forget who the real implementers of change will be — the employees. Recognize those who adopt the desired behaviors for change.  This will encourage others to get engaged and adopt the same behaviors.

    Employees who receive positive feedback for their efforts are more likely to support the change, and even advocate for it.

The Bottom Line
Change at work is rarely easy.  It requires active involvement, careful planning and clear, compelling, regular, honest and open communication.  Are you up to the challenge?

To learn more about how to communicate change to stakeholders, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change Leadership

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