6 Tips for Communicating Change August 20 2015

Change is a fact of life. It is a natural organizational response to competition and to shifts in the socio-economic environment, as well as being a route to gaining advantage and building business performance proactively.  But organizational changes are complex.  For the change to be successful, managers need to ensure that employees both understand and support it.

Communication is an important element of an organizational change management strategy. Effective change communication is invaluable in motivating people to support the change, and ultimately contribute to company performance. While organizational change requires more than 6 tips, here are 6 key points designed to help decision makers at all levels communicate a change initiative:

  1. Use face-to-face communications. Putting leaders in front of employees to provide information and answer questions helps them gain credibility with employees.  It can go a long way toward alleviating stress for employees and keep them focused on the business.
  2. Be aware of employee anxiety. When a significant change is announced, employees will be focused on themselves and their futures the organization.  Anxiety will shift their attention from doing their jobs and the company, so communicate with them to help them through this time.
  3. Don’t lie. If you don’t know the answer to a question, get it for them.  If the answer to a difficult question is unknown, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”.  Employees will appreciate the honesty.  Don’t wait until you know everything to communicate; you may never know everything.
  4. Use FAQs and talking points. Share talking points with supervisors and keep FAQs current to make sure everyone has the same source of information.  Consider posting information on your intranet site.
  5. It’s easy for leaders to get into a “tell” mode and forget to listen for reactions, discussions and emotional hot points.
  6. Be wary of expressions like “mindset change” and “changing attitudes”, because language like this often indicates a tendency towards imposed or enforced change. It also implies the organization believes that its people currently have the wrong mindset or attitude.