Humans resist change. Yet, it is crucial to business growth and success. Communication is fundamental to change management and a good communication partner can prevent business disruption, employee resistance and navigate the people side of change.
Mistakes to avoid when communicating change:
- Neglecting the human side of transformation. Technology is about human enablement, yet so often we see IT implementations where the human element of explaining and creating buy-in is missed. Ask yourself, “how important is it that our team embraces this change?” The answer will indicate if you need a change and communications plan.
- Wait to bring in communications. Plan as early as possible to provide an effective communication strategy. Communication starts with awareness and alignment, builds to create stakeholder buy-in and eventually results in change adoption. It doesn’t happen overnight and if the change is shared without strong communication, it is difficult to repair feelings of mistrust and frustration with stakeholders.
- Starting with a vehicle in mind before defining the purpose and outcome. Sometimes communicators receive a request to start a newsletter when another vehicle or approach may be more effective. Ask questions to understand the audience, purpose of the communication and anticipated outcomes to ensure the right approach and vehicle is used.
- One and done mentality. Sending one email – or the same email multiple times does not mean it was received or understood. A communications strategy is a multichannel approach with many touch points. And, measuring employee sentiment, open rates, and comprehension should be included to make sure the message isn’t just received, but understood, embraced and (ideally) there is an opportunity for dialogue, feedback and questions.
Top tips to effectively facilitate change and communicate:
- Balance the business message with the human component. Think of how this change impacts your employee population and what’s in it for them. Write with compassion and empathy.
- Utilize change management and communication leads for large-scale projects or when potential business impact is high. Proper support and staffing outweigh the cost of a transformation gone wrong.
- Be transparent. Avoid jargon, instead opting for simple, direct and clear language.
Enable people managers to spread information. Most employees pay more attention when information comes directly from their manager. Communicate with people managers to get their buy-in and feedback early. Providing a communications toolkit to managers to make it easy to share the messages with their employees can be a great asset.