Today’s organizations experience tremendous amounts of change. Whether these changes are prompted by the implementation of new technologies, the redesign of business-critical processes, or simply the introduction of different leadership practices, the people who are most impacted by these changes are less likely to accept them if they don’t know what’s going on. In fact, these same people will likely make up their own assumptions about what’s happening and what impact it will have on them if you don’t share regular and relevant updates with them.
At the heart of all organizational change efforts then is communications. Change communication is more than the tangible tools that convey information though. It is the glue that binds stakeholders to your vision, and effective communication truly engages the hearts and minds of all your key stakeholders.
The following are 11 fundamental principles for effectively managing the message about your upcoming changes to gain the buy-in and support you need to succeed.
- Communicate early, communicate often
- Communicate what you know when you know it
- Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” as long as you follow that up with “…but I’ll find out and get back to you as soon as I do.”
- Let everyone know what is happening, why, and what they can do to help
- Reinforce what is staying the same as you discuss what may be changing
- Create multiple, targeted approaches to reach your various audiences
- Communicate openly, honestly, and frequently as things continue to change
- Establish feedback mechanisms from those affected by the changes to those in leadership to inform your ongoing decisions
- Communicate the initial results and early progress of your change efforts to everyone
- Acknowledge and thank everyone who helped contribute to your success
- Continue to communicate well after the changes occur and as long as the transition continues
It’s about adoption, not just implementation, so remember to keep the focus on the future to avoid getting stuck mid-stream. Even worse, you don’t want people to revert back to their old ways of doing things because in the absence of any consistent communication they think the changes have been abandoned. What you don’t tell them, they’ll just make up for themselves. That’s just what we do and how we make sense of the world as human beings!