Successful Change Starts With Communication
Change bombards us all day every day, or at least that’s how it feels, and in the workplace, the overall success of any given change initiative rides on the effectiveness of your communication with the employees touched by it. This makes when, how and what you communicate to your employees critically important in successfully implementing a change initiative.
Waiting too long and communicating too little are the most common change-related communication failures. This is especially true in light of the fact that we live in a technology-driven era when the rate of change is exponential to that experienced by any generation before us. We – and our employees – must adapt to change almost constantly, and there are no mentors who’ve experienced this phenomenon to guide us. Many project managers want every “i” dotted and “t” crossed before they begin providing information to employees, but these delays fly in the face of the reality of today’s change-infused society. The wiser course of action is to start communicating as early as you can responsibly do so and keep communicating with regular updates. Communicate as soon as information is known or an important decision is made, and don’t worry if you have to make minor corrections or adjustments to the information down the road. Your employees will understand that during a change sometimes details change, and they will appreciate the effort to get them information quickly, given how much change they are constantly handling.
Since we all absorb information in different ways and at different rates, it is essential that you use all of the communication tools available to you. Using multiple channels of communication allows you to broadly spread your message to a wider audience. Do not be afraid to repeat yourself. Studies have shown that most of us must be exposed to the same information three to seven times before we truly retain the information, and more than that before we truly invest in it.
In just about any change scenario, employees want to know one thing: “How will this affect me?” The answer may be quite complex, but keeping this underlying question in mind will help you organize and frame your information constructively. Communicate clearly and directly how the change will affect them and how they do their jobs, and why it will make a difference to the business. Also, don’t forget little changes. Many companies pay attention to change communication for big initiatives, but ignore the less dramatic ones. Small changes, such as department reorganizations or policy updates, can create as much distraction in the workplace as larger initiatives. Your employees deserve to get timely and relevant information about small changes if they are expected to be accountable for living with those changes. Is your communications program keeping pace with today’s unprecedented communication environment? Or is it time for some, well, changes? Contact Ward. Our expert internal communication team can help you make change happen across your organization, and in your communications function.