Change management planning can quickly be derailed without a solid communication plan. On the other hand, a strong communication plan can help make up for unforeseen circumstances or an imperfect change management strategy.
Here are some key change management communication tips to help you navigate the change path:
COMMUNICATE THE PROBLEM
In order for people to support a change and get on board, they need to understand that change is necessary. Explain the problem (the reason change is needed) and don’t be afraid to explain the bad. Give them time to digest and DO NOT communicate potential solutions just yet. Allow employees to identify the need for change. Unify them in their understanding that something needs to be done.
By presenting a solution before the need is understood, people will use up their energy evaluating potential solutions instead of being focused on the problem. The mindset needs to be – “What are we going to do about this?” rather than “Shouldn’t we do something else instead?”
One of the best (and easiest) ways to build trust in your organization is through transparency. Yes, there are times when information needs to be managed carefully, but only do so when necessary. Show both the good and the bad, not just the information that is easy to share. In a transparent culture, employees are FAR more likely to trust you when difficult decisions have to be made.
Appeal to the sense of ownership in your employees. If your people own the problem, they will be motivated for change! Ask yourself – “How does the problem impact our people?”
Quick victories gain trust. Often, quick victories can be low cost (or no cost) solutions that have big impact. Build credibility by showing employees you are concerned about their interests.
Who are the most negative, outspoken people in your organization (or at your location)? Who are your more emotive people? Who are your natural born leaders that people gravitate towards? These are the opinion leaders of your organization and the people you need on board.
Bring these individuals into the mix. Involve them in the problem and to help evaluate options for a solution. This may take place through organized committees, focus groups, or one-on-one. By practicing collaborative leadership and developing solutions with the direct involvement of your opinion leaders, these individuals will become your champions for change.
Use intentional messaging. Put yourself in the shoes of those on the receiving end. Consider “What’s in it for Me (WIIFM)” from their perspective. What do your employees care about? How does this affect them personally? Communicate in a way that demonstrates a clear understanding of your employees’ perspective and in ways that will inspire.
Communication is not formulaic. Good Leaders know the importance of balancing the human capital with the goals and objectives of the organization. It requires intentional thought, creativity and effort and a solid understanding of your organization’s culture and environment.
Devan is a Partner with Acuity HR Solutions. For more information about what Acuity’s team can do for your organization, visit our website at www.acuityhr.ca