Getting Initial Change Communications Right

Getting Initial Change Communications Right
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Initial Change Communications – Do It Right from the Get-Go
Don’t join the 70% majority of companies whose change initiatives fail! Too many organizations and change management simulation participants are not rigorous enough at the outset as they strategize, plan, and communicate desired organizational changes. Change leaders should not leave anything up to chance.

Poor initial change communications are major factor in failing to win the hearts and minds of those most affected by change at work. When we ask employees, they tell us that leadership’s vision of change often lacks the accuracy, urgency, clarity, relevancy, and messaging that inspires commitment and alignment.

Studies reveal that only 13% of U.S. workers strongly agree that their leadership communicates effectively and only 2% more that their leaders create enthusiasm for the future.

To set the stage for effective change, you need to convey a message that both explains the need for change in way that resonates with employees and also inspires their commitment to the future vision.

4 Keys to Better Initial Change Communications
To do better change communications right from the very beginning, here’s what change leaders need to do:

  1. Create the Right Change Context
    Experienced change management consultants know that context matters.  To create the right context for change communications, make sure that you and your key stakeholders deeply:

    Understand the current situation
    – Assess the current level of dissatisfaction with the status quo
    – Explain the  vision for change
    – Create enough urgency for change for each and every stakeholder
    – Agree upon the first steps to take over the next 30, 60, and 90 days
  2. Communicate for Impact
    Communicating for impact is about telling a better story by consistently speaking the truth with relevance, moving important work forward in a meaningful way, and building trust and confidence in your relationships.

    For us change leaders, it all starts with the hundreds of opportunities to communicate each day that all roll up to a master narrative of our credibility and our integrity.  That means being crystal clear about why change matters and considering the following basic communication questions every time you open your mouth:

    – What are you communicating?
    – Who is your audience?
    – What are the highlights of your message?
    – What do you want your audience to do?
    – What does success look like?
    – What might get in the way of your success?
    – Why is this communication important?
  3. Connect Vision with Purpose
    Make sure that the change initiative is fully aligned with the purpose of the organization and is designed to meaningfully advance that purpose. If not, take a more thorough look at your change rationale. There may be a disconnect that will undermine both your communication and your vision.
  4. Make It a Group Effort
    Change should be done “with” people, not “at” them. It stands to reason that the more you actively involve stakeholders in the change planning, the more easily they will accept the need for change and commit to it.

    Invite employee involvement early and often through interviews, surveys, focus groups, working sessions, and open forums. There may be some who resist change, but you will be better able to answer the questions you hear than those that are whispered behind the scenes.

The Bottom Line
There is no secret sauce for change success. Our change management simulation participants know that it takes work to plan and tell a persuasive story and patience to sustain forward motion and realize the desired changes.

To learn more about being an effective change leader, download The 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change Leadership that You Must Get Right

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