Change has been creeping up on us at breakneck speed with no warning. Its unavoidable.
Communication is central to managing change because a good communication help employees navigate a clear path through turbulent waters of change.
When employees know why change is necessary and are willing to accompany you on the journey, they will do whatever it takes to ensure the success of the change initiative.
If your employees do not understand why change is required and what does it mean for organizational future, then it is strong possibility that change initiative may result into a failure or mess.
If they are unclear about new roles and responsibility and they hardly know what are new skills required to implement change. Then again it may lead to failure.
And if not it will increase resistance to organizational change.
This happens because of poor communication.
Let’s check out what are common mistakes managers make while communicating change and how these mistakes can be avoided.
08 Mistakes to Avoid During Change Communication
There are common 08 mistakes that can be avoided in change communication. Knowing these mistakes and avoiding these will improve chances of success.
Let’s discuss these mistakes in detail.
1. Lack of clarityThe first principle of good communication is clarity. The message should be straightforward, simple and clear to understand.
It’s pointless to express something if it’s difficult to understand.
Whatever component of your company is changing, it may not be a great experience for all employees, especially if it creates stress, financial difficulties, job loss, forced relocation, or other undesirable experiences.
It’s also important to communicate with honesty and explain real situation to employees and stakeholders. Avoid pretending that everything is well if it is not the case.
Employees that are already disillusioned and pessimistic will lose faith in you.
2. Too much direct communication by leadership
Many a times change leaders want to speak about change to employees of lowest tier. They make too much communication and this is a mistake.
Change leaders should only communicate need and urgency of change at the start of change initiative. And rest of the communication should be left to middle level managers and supervisors of workers.
Here comes the important role of change agent who can be effective in communicating change with employees.
Second, and more crucially, too much communication from the top management or leadership have the potential to deteriorate the relationship between employees and their direct supervisor.
3. Delayed communication
When you force change on your employees at the last minute, they haven’t had time to prepare, either emotionally or physically. The sooner you can start communicating about your change initiative, the better.
This way, you can create a communications schedule and plan your messaging while also allowing for a buffer in case something goes wrong and needs to be addressed differently.
4. One-way communication
Effective communication is all about engaging people. It is not about throwing piles of information on them and asking to take action.
Change managers often make this mistake by pushing information at people without listening them.
For a successful change communication, its always better to involve employees by generating a dialogue or a conversation. A good communication should encourage everyone to give their input and feedback.
Whatever communication channels are used for communicating change, ensure that it allows two way communication. Ask people what they like about the change initiative, what are their fears and concerns and what questions they have.
5. Irregular communication
You can’t expect to send one email and be done with it. Continuous and often repetitive communication is required for effective sending message across.
You may need to explain the same message multiple times before it sinks in, so you need to be regular in communication.
The problem with irregular communication is that you are sending a message to your employees and stakeholders that they are not your priority and we don’t care about their fears and concerns about change.
It is always recommended to develop a communication plan which does have frequency of communication with employees and stakeholders through different mediums and channels.
6. Selection of wrong communication channel
It’s a big mistake to select wrong communication channel for change management.
If you opt right medium then chances are high that communication will be successful.
For example, if you send out an email to have input and feedback on a complex issue then there are less chances that people will open up in reply to that email. And the result will be the same if you use any other channel which have restricted options for two-way communication.
Another negative aspect of selecting wrong communication channel is that it not only disturb message and its interpretation but it also creates mistrust among employees about yours commitment towards change initiative.
7: Not allowing questions
Don’t assume employees understand what you’re saying or asking them without first confirming that they do.
Organizations could save a lot of time and change inititiatives are successful if managers let employees ask questions without making them feel inept.
Managers should foster an environment that encourages employees to ask questions without judgement in order for them to be as productive and happy as possible.
8. Allowing emotions to take control of your communication
Its important to not allow your emotions to take control of your communication.
Change managers need to respond situation in a positive manner rather than reacting it emotionally.
In case of any tough situation, change leaders and managers should maintain their cool and take time to respond to it.
When you are feeling negative emotions, the first step is to recognise your emotions. Your body definitely tells you how you are feeling and what are these emotions.
Internal communication is critical during testing time of change, and it should not be overlooked. Any mistake in communication could result into a failure of change initiative. Poor communication creates issue of mistrust among employees. Therefore change managers must focus on avoiding some common mistakes in communication related to change.