Change – it’s a big part of any organisation – large or small.
For many businesses, the last few years have been filled with restructures, process enhancements, redundancies and a steady stream of mergers and acquisitions. Major areas of change in a company’s internal environment can be strategic, structural, process-orientated or people-centred.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to employee engagement during a change project – a successful communications plan should be tailored to ensure the people impacted by the project support and engage in the change.
Below are a few pointers which can help to ensure the success of your communications plan during a change program.
- Communications as part of the project team: Internal communications is most effective when it sits in the project team as a function of the change process itself. This structure helps ensure stakeholder feedback and insights are being fed into the planning process.
- Be wary of silence. Silence creates an information vacuum – be prepared to communicate even though you won’t have all the answers. The change communications process is as much about engaging and connecting with employees as it is about making announcements.
- The change process takes time. Don’t mistake effective change management as a good meeting or an effective training event. It’s more than that. After change has been introduced, be prepared to spend as much time reinforcing change as you did building an awareness of the need for change .
- Identify and tailor. Identify the impacted groups and tailor key messages accordingly. Good communications plans use accomplished spokespeople, create two-way communications and use face-to-face communications whenever possible.
- CEO = big picture. Employees prefer to hear from the CEO about the rationale for the change and how it aligns with the organisation’s vision. When it comes to the personal impact of the change, employees prefer to hear direct from their manager or supervisor.
- Resistance is par for the course. Resistance is inevitable so plan for it as a core element of your change management strategy. Your focus is not to eliminate resistance, but to anticipate it and work to mitigate the consequences.
- A word from our sponsor. Active, visible supporters or “sponsors” for change are a key success factor in any change communications plan. These sponsors would be identified as internal advocates for the change and exist throughout all levels of the organisation. Effective sponsorship creates credibility for the change and demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to it.
Change is inevitable and an organisation’s ability to adapt to change significantly influences their level of success.