Key change communications strategies to share the information that people need and want to know.
Two common questions about communications in change projects are:
- What needs to be communicated?
- How often do the communications need to be shared?
There isn’t a definite answer for these questions, and the best response is usually: it depends. Before determining what needs to be communicated and the frequency, more information is required on the change's anticipated impacts. A communications strategy is simply the best guess until there is clarity on the following questions:
- What is the change?
- How difficult or complex is the change?
- Who is impacted by the change?
- How are they impacted?
- Why is the change necessary?
- How do you anticipate those impacted by the change will react?
When the impacts, scope and complexity are understood, consider the potential communications challenges common in change projects.
Common communications challenges
Complex changes often require more communication. There may be more people affected by the change or the impacts may be immense, so people need further information about the change to understand what is expected from them to adopt and accept the change.
Communications need to come from the right voice: leaders of the people that are affected by the change. Otherwise, the communications may be disregarded, ignored, undervalued and sometimes simply unwanted.
When leaders have been planning a change far in advance of announcing the project, they may overlook that their employees don’t have the same information, context and time to make an informed decision about the change. Crafting communications from the perspective of the people affected by the change is obvious but sometimes ignored.
10 tips for effective communications
These ten tips for effective change management communications come from the experiences of LaMarsh Global’s change management consultants.
- Address what the audience needs to hear and wants to hear.
- Communicate the why before the what and how.
- Remember that one communication never fits all audiences.
- Appeal to the multiple communication and change styles.
- Remind leaders that communication happens when the listener hears, not when they speak.
- Understand that listeners – not communicators – decide when communications are sufficient and effective.
- Rely on your risk analysis to define messages and frequency of communications.
- Be aware that communications can both mitigate risk and create risk.
- Remember that communications are most effective when the leaders deliver them.
- Without effective communications, people may “fill in the gaps” with their perceptions and personal renditions of the change.
Every change project relies on effective communications to share the information that people need and want to know.
Regardless of the size, scope, complexity or timing of the change, your communication strategy and plan should incorporate (but not be limited to) sharing these 25 key messages.