When it comes to enterprise changes, communication is key to create clarity and ensure that everyone is one the same page as far as the goals of the change are concerned.
Well-planned communication of change will help you to make people feel positive about it and reduce the impact of potential resistance.
Poorly planned communication, on the other hand, will foster resistance and result in a lack of motivation from employees. The main problem with implementing changes lies in managers’ inability to communicate with employees and foster their engagement.
Using emails or presentations that aren’t likely to be opened and studied in details, management will close themselves in their offices and claim that they’ve made the facts of the change known to everyone.
In fact, they’re simply hiding from technology. Many organizations tend to rely on written communications – and that goes against the typically human need for dialogue.
How can you effectuate communication of change and open up an engaging conversation with employees?
Here are a few tips to help you achieve just that and find less resistance to change than you expected.
Rely On In Person Communication
When it comes to communication, you’ll find out that employees value dialogue and conversation. Sure, it takes more time than an email, but it’s much more efficient. It’s not strategic to arrive to every single presentation prepared to the brim – it will inhibit dialogue. Instead, try to initiate the conversation.
You can be sure that people you talk to will share their ideas and objections readily – you can easily orchestrate such a conversation in a group of employees. This approach will help you to get people engaged in the process of communication – much more so than when facing yet another dull presentation. Feeling like they have a voice will change employees’ perspective and build acceptance for change.
Make Sure Management Shows Support for Change
Without management showing clear support for change, you won’t get far in your communication. It’s essential that executives demonstrate this support when you’re communicating and interacting with employees. This way workers can develop a certain level of comfort once they see that the change process is supported by all the management.
You should display your commitment to change as well. Let employees know that this change is not just a temporary alteration, but that it’s here to stay. As a business leader you should be committed to doing whatever it takes to grow your business.
When leadership commitment is challenged, the process of change becomes stagnant – employees won’t be driving it because they feel as if their time and effort were poorly valued.
Seek Feedback About Change
One way you can foster engagement with the change process is by collecting employee feedback and implementing it whenever possible. If your organization is vast or geographically dispersed, it’s a good idea to collect feedback after a while to ask employees whether they’re aware of the change.
A survey like this will provide you with heaps of valuable information, showing you whether the change has been communicated successfully. If you discover a gap in knowledge, you can quickly address it with appropriate coaching to local management.
Fit Your Messages to Employee Perspective
When talking about change, you might be using a language that no one further down the organization understands. Not to mention the fact that people spread through different levels of an organization see the same issue from different perspectives. The reasons are many and varied – it can be history, interest, experience or culture.
How people will approach the change also depends on their professional life – their expectations will vary depending on their career stage. That’s why your communication style should be adjusted to meet these people half way.
Young people straight out of college will require a different communication method than seasoned workers nearing retirement. Speak to those differences and try to connect them – if you do, you’ll bring in many people on board.
Answer What Role They’ll Play in the Change Process
Many employees will be interested to know more about their role in the planned change process. Make sure that those who are eager to contribute suggestions and insights for improvement have an outlet. Early on in your communication, you’ll want to engage the so-called ‘early adopters’. That’s about 20% of management employees at any organization.
The early adopters like to move and shake things, trying new approaches in getting things done. Recognize them and their input, and you’ll enjoy a much more engaging communication of change and less resistance than you expected.
Allow Your Sponsors to Show a Real Commitment to Communication
Co-creation of communication strategy is your key to success. There’s no reason for you to be out there on your own when you could receive valuable backup from executives. The more active they become in communicating the change process, the higher the chance that the news about change will engage employees.
If they play an active role in developing the communication plan, they should also be there when it comes to taking action and delivering it. And all this can be done expertly and quickly.
Identify Where Resistance to Change Comes From
Sometimes your initial communications need to offer a strategy for uncovering potential paths of resistance to change. You’re not just passing on information, but communicating – and this goes two ways. It’s absolutely necessary that while you’re making others aware of a new strategy for change, you’ll also get feedback to improve your understanding of how the message was received.
Resistance comes in either passive or active form. It can be blatantly overt or hidden. Employees resist the change in their own ways and it’s your job during the communication phase to uncover the possible ways in which they might do that.
Show How the Change Affects Employees
When communicating the change, you need to clearly show how it will affect the everyday lives of employees. This will automatically make the change more relevant to their lives, and far more engaging. People actually report that they prefer their supervisors to clearly tell them how the change will impact their daily jobs.
Changes associated with improvement processes affect people in different ways, so provide an overview of how the change will work on different levels of the organization. This is something workers will be interested in – they’ll use this knowledge to assess the change and decide whether to resist it or embrace it.
When communicating changes in tools, systems or roles, direct supervisors should help you in delivering the news – they’re the ones who have a relationship with the individual.
Developing a Communication Plan
Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to build your communication plan. Identify your target audience, key topics and preferred media and methods for communication. Remember the importance of face-to-face meetings.
Once you’ve got your media figured out, evaluate them to assess their effectiveness in bringing the topics forward to everyone’s attention. Decide whether these media types require high circulation and what is the frequency that will result in successful communication.
Next, decide who should send the message so that it reaches the highest level of credibility. Finally, you should ensure that the medium offers opportunities for soliciting feedback, helping you to see potential message interpretations and points of resistance.
When communicating change to employees, remember to schedule the communication topics so they fit your change deployment plan. Make sure you know your medium well and have a clear understanding of your target audience.
Effective communication of change will pave the way towards swift adoption and celebration of its benefits as soon as possible.
How Do You Communicate Change?
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