What You Need to Know About Change Management Communication
— September 6th, 2022
The rate of change has never been greater than it is today, and with it comes new opportunities and new challenges.
Organizations must rapidly adapt, change, and transform to compete. Those that do it successfully gain a significant advantage over their competitors.
But only a third of change initiatives succeed, and the primary reason for failure is poor communication.
When implementing organizational change, management has to deal with two challenges: technical challenges, and human challenges.
Technical challenges are often easier to deal with because they involve visible aspects of the workplace, whereas human challenges are not simple and often require changes to the organization's culture.
If organizations don't deal with the human challenge or don't deal with it well, the technical changes can't work—even if implemented excellently.
The key to overcoming these challenges is to have a compelling change story and communicate it clearly.
If you want to deep dive into how to create a Change Story, plus learn other strategies for successfully driving change, check out our Ultimate Guide to Change Management Communication. Here's a summary of the key takeaways.
How to Create a Compelling Change Story
The eight tips below should help you come up with a compelling change story for employee buy-in.
1. Involve Your People from the Start
For a smooth change and faster decision-making during implementation, you need to include all the stakeholders to clarify everything and build trust between employees and management.
2. Understand the Human Dimension
Most people fear the unknown, and organizational change can have many unknown outcomes. Humans react to change in various ways, but the fear of the unknown often leads to resistance to change. Leaders must understand the human dimension and address the root cause of these reactions to get employee buy-in.
3. Inform Employees Why Change is Needed Before They Ask
To fuel change and minimize resistance, all stakeholders need to understand why they need to change their ways of doing things. Clear communication is essential to ensure employees areall on board.
4. Explain the Compelling Business Reasons for the Required Change
To get all stakeholders on board, you must explain the organizational and business reasons for implementing change. These might include sustained loss of market share, new competitors, implementation of new tech to improve productivity, process inefficiency issues, and talent acquisition and retention challenges.
5. Be Specific About What Needs to Change—And Get Leaders Visibly Backing it
To align efforts and ensure the responsibilities are clear, what needs to change should be documented and articulated in detail. Once everyone is on the same page, leaders must take responsibility and lead the way instead of delegating. Doing so shows they believe in the change and could inspire their employees.
6. Involve Your People Throughout the Transformation
Involve your people every step of the way as you implement the change. Inclusion and their voices being heard empower them, making them work harder toward the change. They should be involved in open conversations about the change and be allowed to make some decisions.
7. Connect with Your People on a Personal Level
Ensure your people understand what the change means to them personally, and how they will benefit from it. However, you need proper communication tools and strategies to connect with them effectively.
8. Use the Communication Channels Your People Prefer
Communicating with your people through their preferred channels certainly enhances the employee experience—and that requires a robust omnichannel communications platform.
Omnichannel communications allow you to personalize content and give employees a choice in how they receive comms. They can effortlessly move between different channels for a more integrated experience.
The Ultimate Guide to Change Management Communication
Understand Who Will be Impacted—For Better or Worse
With most organizational transformations, there are winners and losers. How you relay the information to employees is more important than what you relay, and determines whether employees will resist the change.
With the right employee comms platform, you can share your messages on a variety of channels and invite feedback.
You can monitor your people's reactions to changes and identify any issues or misunderstandings that need to be addressed.
No organizational change can be successful without good communication. Good communication is not just about the message reaching its destination—it’s also about personalizing the message, engaging your people on their terms, and using data to drive outcomes.
Superior communication ability amplifies the efforts of change leaders, empowers managers, and strengthens employee connections.
How to Drive Change with Communications Tools
Digital tools are invaluable resources when introducing change. According to McKinsey, digitizing the five areas below can enhance change efforts and increase the likelihood of success.
1. Provide Just-In-Time Feedback
Just-in-time feedback allows employees to adjust their behavior and to witness the impact of the adjustments on performance.
2. Personalize the Experience
Personalization involves making the information as uniquely relevant to the receiver as possible. It also involves showing them how their role contributes toward a greater goal.
The right comms platform should provide powerful personalization and analytics capabilities that ensure people get the information that’s relevant to them.
3. Sidestep Hierarchy
Sidestepping cumbersome hierarchical protocols shortens the time your people take to get things done. The direct and instant connections allow easy information, advice, and insights sharing.
4. Build Empathy, Community, and Shared Purpose
Provide an outlet for your people to share and see information about a certain task. The information could include informal commentary and task progress to create an esprit de corps.
5. Demonstrate Progress
Constantly communicate progress toward change to make it feel more urgent and real. If you can access sophisticated tools and platforms, your employees can see their individual contributions toward the ultimate goal, giving them greater motivation.
Managing change is a constant challenge for every organization, and one of the best strategies for overcoming this challenge is putting employee communication at the forefront of every transformation initiative.