Change Communication Best Practices

Change Communication Best Practices
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When Workplace Change Is Unwelcome
Organizational change is rarely enthusiastically welcomed in the workplace. Employees are apt to feel threatened and worried about their job security and possible lack of skills to perform in the new environment. Good change leaders and managers recognize the need to overcommunicate with employees during times of change and follow change communication best practices.

Unfortunately, employees consistently report that they’re not getting the information they want or need during times of change.

The Right Information
That doesn’t mean you should bury employees with a pile of confusing “corporate speak.” The information you communicate should be meaningful and relevant to your employees’ concerns.

Five Key Elements for Effective Change Communication Best Practices
Shared by our microlearning experts, a study of companies undergoing major restructuring found that the most successful communications efforts had five elements in common. Use this list of change communication best practices as a guide to make sure you’re saying the right things in the right way during change:

  1. The Why
    All too often managers focus on the “What” and never explain “Why” decisions are being made.Employees will be far more receptive to change if they understand the rationale for change. Keep it simple and check for understanding.

    An example: “We’re merging with another company because the industry is consolidating, and we won’t be big enough to compete on our own. Do you have any questions?”
  1. The Timing
    As much as you can, keep employees actively involved in the planning for change so they become more fully engaged in the process. Communication in a timely manner could sound like this: “Here are copies of the press release that we’ll be issuing to the media soon so you know what information will be distributed publicly.”

  2. The Implications for Each Employee
    When direct supervisors explain the specific implications of the change to each level of worker, employees understand how the change will affect them and their job. The change goes from the general to the specific.

    Here’s an example: “This merger will give us access to the growing healthcare industry. What this means for you on the marketing team is that we’ll need to create new collateral for that market.”

  3. Continuous Flow of Information
    In our Organizational Alignment Research, 81% of respondents who reported a high level of alignment agreed or strongly agreed that information flow was timely. Conversely, only 6% of companies who reported a low level of alignment agreed that information flow was timely. There is no doubt that communication about changes should be ongoing.

    Change is a process, not an event. Keep your workforce well informed all along the change journey.  You could say something like, “As of now, I’ve told you as much as I know. As soon as more information becomes available, I’ll update you.”

  4. Validation of Employee Responses
    The best change managers accept the emotions of employees for what they are, not what managers think they should be. Here’s an example of a communication that shows empathy for the employee’s reaction to change: “Chris, I understand that you’re worried about layoffs. Those decisions won’t be made for a while, but I know it’s hard not knowing what will happen. As soon as I can tell you something, I will. In the meantime, I’ll share your concerns with the transition team, if that’s okay with you.”

The Bottom Line
Change is a constant in today’s workplace. Those managers who know how to communicate change most effectively will see the least disruption on their teams and in their productivity. Are your managers prepped to handle change communication with skill and understanding?

To learn more about how to communicate change to stakeholders, download The Science-Backed Way leaders Should View Change Leadership Communications

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