There is not a secret recipe for communicating change. However, when you prepare effectively, it can be easier (or at least less painful) than you might think. When you have change to communicate with your employees, you must do so carefully to help transition the organization to the desired future state. Here are a few strategies for communicating change that will help you achieve your goal as well as help take some of the ‘sting’ out of the process:
Initial communications should be designed to create awareness around the reason for the change. Show employees how the change will positively impact both the business and their individual position (what’s in it for them). Do not overload your employees with information. Communicate each step in the process at the right time and make sure to provide details so employees feel ‘in the loop’ as the change progresses across the organization.
Be honest about why the change is happening. Be open about the pros and cons associated with the change. Your employees will appreciate the honest dialog. And remember…your employees are smart (after all, you hired them!). If you’re trying to hide something, they will know.
The change may come as a shock to some; therefore, it is important for the messenger (you) to remain positive and focused on the benefits for the organization. If your employees sense you are waffling, uninformed, or not in favor of the change, they will adopt the same outlook.
Right Message, Right Time
If the change is something that you anticipate will elicit many questions or is multi-faceted, it would be wise to meet with your employees in person. You may want to meet with smaller groups versus everyone at once to ensure the right message is being delivered based on individual needs. On the flipside, it the change is small and you do not anticipate many questions or pushback, an email may suffice.
Know Your Audience
Communication on change should begin with careful planning. Most importantly…know your audience. Think about their specific role within the organization and how the change may impact them both professionally and personally.
Anticipate Questions and Be Accessible
Ask yourself questions such as “How will this change impact my employees at work and/or at home?”, “Who may perceive this change as negative and why?”, and “How can I make this change easiest for everyone to accept?” Anticipating questions and preparing your answers will help you feel more confident as the messenger. Your willingness to listen and answer employee questions in a timely, clear manner will assist with the acceptance of the change.
Follow these simply strategies for communicating change and you will feel more prepared and confident to manage your organization through the process. Best of luck!