Every organization deals with it – change. And whether it’s a huge announcement such as a merger or acquisition or a smaller change such as a new position at a company, communicating the change appropriately is a very important component of the process.
Communicating consistently, frequently and through multiple channels is essential when you are communicating any sort of change. It’s equally important to develop a written communications plan and timeline to ensure you stay on track with your message.
Below are some change management tips to ensure effective message delivery:
- Clearly communicate the why. What is the goal or vision for the change? How does this change make an impact overall? Make sure that in all communications and interactions, you are making this point known.
- Share how this will affect your audience personally. Understandably, your audience ultimately wants to know how this will affect them. Try to put yourself in your employees’ shoes and communicate the message appropriately. Also, make sure you are communicating in terms that your audience can understand. Paint pictures, share facts and use examples as often as possible. Include what their roles will be and the timing for any change(s).
- Develop and share the vision going forward. With change comes the exciting opportunity to develop a new vision and efforts that previously may not have been possible. Identify what this change will make possible and ensure you repeatedly communicate this.
- Communicate early and often. As quickly as information becomes available that you can share, you should communicate it though several different channels. In communicating change, repetition is a good thing. Remember, people must see or hear a message an average of seven times before they fully internalize it.
- Spend ample time with your message ambassadors. It is imperative that you dedicate time to your various ambassadors who will help share the message. It is equally important that you train your ambassadors on how to share the message. A clear, confident and consistent message will help your organization throughout the process, and providing message ambassadors with the tools and techniques will make them that much more effective.
- Consistency is crucial. The best way to lose credibility with your employees is by delivering inconsistent messages. It’s imperative that anyone responsible for sharing information is sharing the same messages at the same time and that those messages are consistent.
- Allow time for questions and feedback. It’s important to provide opportunities for your employees to have a two-way conversation with you. Remember to allow them opportunities to have input in the decision-making process (if applicable).
- Listen. Those with whom you are sharing your message will need to know that their voices are being heard. An important part of the communication process includes listening. Not just hearing what the person is saying, but actively listening and understanding his/her point of view. Often, you can develop trust and respect just by listening.
- Only answer questions to which you know the answer. If you do not know the answer to a specific question, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know. It’s better to be transparent about not knowing an answer than to give a wrong answer and then backtrack to correct the situation. If you don’t know the answer, you can either offer to find the answer and get back to them or use a phrase like, “I don’t know the answer to that question, but what I do know is …”
Communicating change can be challenging, but the right guidance can help make your messaging more clear and direct. Chartwell Agency specializes in strategic facilitation and training, public relations, social media, marketing, and event planning – all elements that can help deliver your announcement. If your organization is preparing to announce change and you need help developing your communication plan, give us a call.
-Karli Smith, Vice President