How Do You Communicate Change When It Is Constant?
Develop a Solid Foundation for an Effective Change Communication Strategy
Many studies have shown that poor communication is a major cause of failure effecting change in the workplace. PMI’s Pulse of the Profession report in 2013 gives incredible insight into the essential role of communication when making change in the workplace. It found that 56% of all money at risk during project work is due to ineffective communication. It also found that effective communication:
Leads to an average of 80% of projects being delivered on time, within budget, and achieving original goals
Is considered by 55% of project managers to be the most critical factor in project management
In this article, you’ll learn how organizations can communicate more effectively in a world in which business is in a constant state of flux.
What Is Change Management?
In the VUCA world, change management is essential. Change is something that happens to people. It creates uncertainty, and this leads to resistance. People become concerned, and this leads to emotional reactions. Change management is how we manage the people side of organizational change, helping them transition smoothly from the current state to the future vision.
The Part That Communication Plays in Change Management
Individuals react to change differently. The same individuals may react to different change differently. They may be excited by the change taking place, or they may face it with trepidation. Whether the change is a largescale organizational upheaval or a new process affecting a single team, there will be a period of uncertainty.
It is during this period of uncertainty that communication becomes critical. Managers and leaders must provide the information that people need to ease their concerns or confirm their optimism. Such communication cannot be made haphazardly. It must be planned so that information is provided accurately, consistently, and in a timely manner.
The Foundation of an Effective Communication Strategy During Change
When developing a communication strategy, it is essential that the organization considers the target audience of communications. By understanding who needs the communication, the organization can put in place plans to ensure that it guides people through change and smooths the personal transitions that all change stakeholders will experience.
These six guidelines will help to place a communication strategy on a firm foundation:
1. Ensure That Messages Are Concise and Clear
People should not be subjected to information overload. All communications should deal with a single element of the change, and be disseminated with clarity and precision. There is no place for ambiguity.
2. Share Information Regularly
Create a routine of information sharing, to ensure that people know to expect communication about the change. When information is shared regularly – for example, at weekly team meetings or in a daily email, organizations experience lower levels of resistance.
3. Listen to Feedback and Act on It
Organizations should ensure that feedback is encouraged, discussed and acted upon. People will want to know that their concerns are taken seriously.
4. Involve Key Stakeholders in the Process of Communication
It is essential that messages are consistent. When key stakeholders become conduits of communication, the organization ensures this consistency. It also ensures that messages are shared in language that all stakeholders understand, helping all people affected by change to feel included. Inclusivity helps to embed employee engagement into your change process.
5. Focus on Face-To-Face Communication
It is likely that you will communicate in many ways. This may include by email, change newsletters, instant messaging, and via other impersonal channels. The best communication is face-to-face. This allows people to voice their fears, ask questions, and receive information in words that they can process.
Face-to-face communication reduces the rumours spread at the watercooler, and reduces resistance to change. People feel change personally, and communicating in person helps to ease concerns. General messages may need to be shared with all at the same time, but face-to-face communication provides a level of support that email broadcasts cannot match.
6. Remember You Are Communicating with Individuals
People adapt to change at different paces. Some will embrace change quickly, while others need more time to come to terms with the change. Some will openly resist change. It is essential to understand that the nature of individuals will make them react differently. Managers should be coached to understand this individuality, and to help people embrace change. This is likely to include one-to-one sessions for those most affected by change to ensure that their negativity does not snowball.
Contact us today, and discover how we could help your leaders and managers improve their communication practices and strategies.