When it comes to change management, effective communication helps to produce the best results. To remain competitive, perform well and adapt to market fluctuations, businesses have to evolve. But the changes that accompany such evolution sometimes prompt employees to experience uncertainty or to feel a loss of control. Seventy percent of change solutions fail in part due to human factors. Why is this the case? One reason is that due to a lack of effective communications, employees are prevented from understanding the reasons behind the change.
Communication is essential for helping employees to successfully navigate through a transition period. To help guide your success, Talsom is providing advice below on how to execute such communication effectively.
- Getting Started? Start Planning!
Before doing anything else, structure your efforts by preparing a communication plan as part of your change management plan. In so doing, you will ensure that the information you are expressing is consistent.
Start by describing the reason behind the change and what it means for employees, so that you may then concentrate the message towards a description of the coming changes, in particular as regards any applicable technical aspects. At the same time, determine who your target audience is: each recipient concerned by the project should not be approached in the same way.
Planning and punctuality go hand in hand. Start communicating early, that way you are more proactive and employees will begin to feel involved in the process. “But isn’t it risky to do so if I lack information?” You can communicate without necessarily having every detail that concerns the change or the solution. For example, you may wish to share information concerning needs and inform employees that other details will be communicated shortly. It is the lack of information that creates confusion and resistance.
Several parties are involved in this type of project, including senior executives, members of the project, internal and external clients, supplies and even sub-contractors.
- What Should You Communicate? Address the “Why” before the “How”.
“Why are changes being made?” is one of the first questions that employees generally tend to ask. Concentrate your initial communications on the reasons for the change and do not forget to reinforce this aspect throughout the transition.
If there is uncertainty, questions will result. Communicating is not only a method for sharing a message, it also involves the adoption of an interactive and iterative approach for fostering understanding and for providing a group with common direction. Communication addressed to employees, especially at the very start, should aim to answer the most relevant questions:
“How will the change affect me? How will it affect my team?”
In each of your answers, employees must also be able to discover what the change means for them personally. It is extremely important for them to understand how their roles will change and their adaptation to the image of the business.
- And if You Have Several Target Audiences? Adapt Your Message.
The same message should not address everyone (except perhaps key elements concerning the announcement of the project). During a project, information can pass from executives to middle managers all the way to employees. It is thus important to adapt the messages and to present them as simultaneously as possible to avoid an information overload. You can analyze the impacts of your target recipients to define the messages and the frequency of communications.
Without effective communication, the target recipients’ lack information combined with their personal perceptions will lead to misunderstandings that will have an impact on the transition.
- How Can You Ensure that You Are Heard? Use the Voices of Leaders.
Comparative analysis research shows that employees are more responsive to messages when they are shared by two categories of individuals within the organization:
- The sponsors of the change who can discuss the reason behind the transition. The sponsors play a key role because they regularly communicate key messages concerning the vision and goals of the project.
- Their immediate supervisors who can better speak to the personal impact that the change creates.
- How Can You Communicate? Use a Multi-Channel Approach.
When businesses are undergoing change, employees have the reflex to send messages that are often lost in their recipients’ voluminous inboxes. On average, less than half of internal communications are actually opened. By promoting multiple channels of communication, you will reduce these risks and thus increase your chances of reaching and mobilizing 100% of the target audience.
By communicating announcements or updates on your Intranet, you will facilitate employee access to this information, as employees will be able to consult it as needed at a later time. Discussion boards are another effective solution during a period of organizational change. By sharing their questions, concerns and ideas publicly or in a private group, your employees will become more involved in the change.
It is also recommended to encourage sponatenous interaction via online instant messaging. As a manager or company executive, it could even be helpful to make yourself available for virtual meetings to speak with employees.
But by making communications appealing, isn’t this an effective solution for reducing a lack of comfort during a transition period? Cloud-based platforms such as GoAnimate design animated videos to help teams explain organizational change or the solutions that it presents. By using a scenario‑based tool that is fun, personalized and often humorous, you will help foster a friendly environment that promotes your employees’ understanding and involvement.
Face-to-face meetings with employees remain the best way to ensure that your messages are well received. By obtaining their feedback directly, you can adapt your communication approach as needed.
A change champion network is also helpful for communicating key messages, particularly when you have a large number of employees and it is important to have supporters in each department.
Change generally involves a lot of brainstorming within the organization. It is the people who make up the organization who, through their involvement and ideas, create it and provide it with direction. Employees will feel more invested in the process if they are given a voice by which to express themselves. With the right tools, your communication will be effective and inspire people to make a difference.