6 Change Communication Tips to Avoid Employee Disengagement

6 Change Communication Tips to Avoid Employee Disengagement
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Change Communication Tips that Work

First, we know from our organizational culture assessment that keeping employees engaged during times of organizational change can be a challenge. Change, in and of itself, can generate a sense of unease because it pushes employees out of their familiar and comfortable territory into the new and unexplored. That is where field-tested change communication tips can help.

Of course, properly communicated and executed, organizational change can be exciting too. It’s all starts with the way you get the message across and the timing of those messages.

Six Change Communication Tips to Keep Employees Engaged
Based upon change management simulation data and decades of employee engagement training, here are six field-tested change communication tips on how to communicate change and, at the same time, keep your employees engaged and on track.

  1. Communicate the Reasons for the Change Openly and Honestly
    Employees deserve your respect. Don’t try to “protect” them from what is going on behind the scenes that warrants the change. Your simple, direct, and straightforward approach will quell any suspicion that there’s an issue you are trying to hide.

    You are likely to encourage unhelpful workplace rumors if you are not clear and truthful about four critical components:

    — A compelling vision for change
    — A clear picture of the current state
    — An accurate representation of the dissatisfaction with the current state
    — The proper level of urgency to change

  2. Communicate the Changes from the Top Down
    The initial announcement should come to all employees from the CEO and then cascade strategies through the organization in active two-way team discussions with directors, managers, and supervisors.

    Significant change requires significant change leadership in terms of commitment, involvement, and consistent modeling.

  3. Explain How the Change Will Affect Them
    Employees want to know what the change will mean to them personally and professionally. Will their role change? Will their performance be measured differently? Will they have a new boss or team?

    Acknowledge that things will be different and that you appreciate the effort it will take to adjust. Because many employees will be anxious about their future with the company, understand that there will be an emotional component to their reaction to the change.

    Give them the good news (the specific benefits for them) and bad news (if any).  And, by all means, thank them for their cooperation, patience, and continuing allegiance to the company.

  4. Detail the General Change Process
    Give employees the step-by-step plan for what’s going to happen and when. The more clearly they know what to expect, the more comfortable they will be with the change process.
  5. Get Specific about What They Need to Do
    Once employees understand the overall plan, they will want to know where and how they fit in. What actions must they take? This is where they need to be on board with the change and commit to it.

    If there are some employees more necessary to the change than others, you can try to target and customize your communications so you keep them relevant to your audience.

  6. Give Employees a Chance to Digest the Information, Ask Questions, and Raise Concerns
    This is the most critical step of all to keep employees engaged. Provide opportunities for active involvement of stakeholders, honest feedback, and two-way communication — where employees ask questions and get answers. A dedicated email link would work, but we recommend face-to-face meetings as well.

    Success requires a feeling of unity that comes from actively working together to reach a common goal. Everyone must play their part from the C-Suite to the factory floor.

The Bottom Line
Change is the new normal. Ease the transitions for your employees by communicating openly and honestly and encouraging their questions and commitment.

To learn more about change communication tips, Download our Change Management Toolkit for Leaders

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