People usually don’t embrace or welcome change. They resist it.
Resistance to change is the most important reason of failure of change initiative.
Because people are anxious about their future, they are skeptical about the proposed change, they lack skills that are required to implement change and they are angry because they are not consulted about change.
They feel betrayed, annoyed and demotivated. So, it would be important to communicate organizational change to employees to address this negative situation.
The employees may want to know about reason of change, vision of change, what are those factors that are affecting change, what would be benefit for organization and what would be for them in this initiative.
Change communication is not about sending out one memo or an email to all staff but it needs to be scientific and strategic.
It also depends of type of organizational change. For example, if there is change in organizational culture then a specific communication would be required and if organization is undergoing a technological transformation then altogether a different approach would be required for communication.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what is importance of communicating change to employees and how to communicate organizational change to employees and why it is important to do so.
Lets dive in.
Importance of Communicating Organizational Change to Employees
Communication is the backbone of every organizational transformation because:
- It minimizes uncertainty
- It helps to overcome resistance to change
- It clarifies roles and responsibilities
- It builds capacity of employees
- It motivates employees and boost their morale and productivity
- It makes employees feel valued and part of change process
Purpose of Communicating Organizational Change to Employees
There are two basic questions to consider while communicating organizational change to employees:
- Do the employees are motivated to change?
- Are the employees prepared for adapting to change?
Both of these are quite significant. Efforts at organizational change might be undermined if one is missing.
Therefore, the purpose and goal of communicating organizational change to employees is to enhance employee motivation about change and the organization’s ability to learn and adapt.
10 ways to communicate organizational change to employees
Here are some 10 ways to effectively communicate organizational change to employees.
1. Communicate vision of change
Creating a vision for organizational change is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process.
But communicating it in a wrong way can ruin entire change process.
So, the first thing about communicating change is to make vision of change clear to each of employee. For this purpose, a town hall meeting is usually effective whereby change leader or top management itself explain reason of change to employees.
Many researches say that employees also want leaders to explain why organizational transformation is necessary and how it will benefit them.
Clarifying the reasons for organizational change allows team members to work together toward a common vision.
2. Explaining roles and responsibilities
The next big step in communication is to explain new roles and responsibilities of employees.
Employees are often not clear about new ways of doing and what is their new role in change. For this communication, supervisors must properly articulate the organizational policies, functions, role and responsibilities.
It allows managers to see more of their employees to enhance performance conversations.
3. Communicating the change plan
A change management plan is an outline of tasks that serves as roadmap to implement organizational change. It is a tool which guides everyone during their joinery of organizational change.
It’s important to clearly communicate change management plan with employees.
This plan is usually in form of a document so it can be shared with employees and a dedicated meeting can be organised to discuss this plan. However other channels can also be used depending upon the organizational need and culture.
4. Tell benefits of change to your employees
One other essential way to communicate organizational change is to inform employees about the benefits of the change. Employees must be familiar with all of positive outcomes of change process.
Managers need to put themselves in employees shoes to understand how change will affect them and how it will benefit them.
If this is communicated effectively then managers will earn respect and gain trust of employees. And whole process of change management will become easier to implement and achieve the desired outcome.
5. Ensure 02-way communication channels
02-way communication channels is central to success of any change communication.
Leaders and managers should not be throwing information and communicating about change. They must make themselves available to employees’ questions through feedback conferences, internal channels of communication, or organising town hall meetings.
Leaders need to take the role of active listeners during face-to face meetings and encourage employees to share their fears, thoughts, insights and experience.
For this to happen, leaders should ensure that 02 way communication is available in every medium used for communication.
6. Engage leadership in communication of change
All leaders, including the front-line managers to middle management and senior executives, are the role models and ambassadors for change.
Employees desire to hear from their leaders during times of transition.
There is another benefit of engaging leadership at the onset is that they have advantage of knowing technical and financial side of transition. This special knowledge is only available with leadership so they should be transferring this to employees as early as possible.
Furthermore, change agents can be taken on board to educate and motivate employees and share their experiences with them to make it a success story.
7. Know your audience
One of the reasons of failure of change initiative is that we communicate wrong messages to wrong people.
Change leaders that are familiar with their target audience are more likely to be successful in communicating their message.
It’s also important to understand who is your employee, what are their wishes and desires, what are their inspiration, what are their likes and dislikes, what motivates them and what specific information they require during change process.
8. Finalise key messages
A good communication plan or strategy has key messages for target audience.
It may take a little extra work to craft those messages for each audience especially for employees. But its worth it. Make sure that these messages should be clear, concise and have specific call to action with respect to change.
These message must address informational needs of employees like what they want to know and what is essential information that they must know about change.
After crafting key messages, these can be put to test by exposing few employees to these messages. Based on their feedback, these message can be finalised and locked. Be consistent and always use same messages once these are locked and finalised.
9. Prepare your toolkit
Change leaders and managers need some support material and resources to facilitate their communication with employees.
They can be provided with a toolkit that will help them to communicate consistently and clearly.
A good toolkit may have summary of change initiative, fact sheet, FAQs and crisp presentation on change management. Such a toolkit will help leaders and managers to save their precious time while preparing for their talk, discussion and presentation.
Development of such resources will also ensure continuity and consistency in delivery of messages and overall communication.
10. Address gossips and rumours
Gossip and rumors have negative effect on morale and productivity of employees. If these are spread during the time of change then it may impede progress and cause resistance to change.
If change leaders don’t regularly communicate with employees then it’s natural that gossip and rumours will be spread about change. It will make entire environment toxic.
Change leaders while communicating organization change to employees must focus on addressing gossip and rumours.
If they don’t pay their attention to this then they may end up losing trust and respect with employees.
In a nutshell, leaders and mangers must know how to communicate organisational change to employees. It not only help them to overcome resistance of change but also motivate employees to adopt to new ways of doing things. There are 10 proven tips that will help change leaders and managers to make an impactful communication during journey of change.