6. Communicating change


Effective communication:

Consider the following in order to effectively communicate when leading any change process.

Communicate often and tailor communications to those affected by change

Voids in communication often lead to people filling in the gaps with incorrect information, which could lead to the development of 'urban myths'. If these take seed, it can be hard to communicate the real, intended messages, and mistrust or cynicism may pervade. Furthermore, people affected by change, but not involved in leading it, won't be privy to the same level of knowledge as the individual sponsoring it - and usually won't feel such a high level of commitment to the change. With this in mind, communication needs to be viewed from the perspective of those affected by the change, and must be regular, timely, accurate, transparent and two-way. Click here to download a communication planning tool.

 Acknowledge loss and celebrate opportunities

To some extent, every change represents a loss of sorts – which should not be overlooked or belittled. Likewise, take every chance to celebrate the opportunities that are presented as part of any change. In terms of both losses and opportunities, it's often the small, seemingly innocuous things which may get overlooked – but in fact these aspects may mean a lot to people.

 Normalise the process of change

To avoid change 'fatigue' (whereby people become tired and exasperated by seemingly constant change), wherever possible make change an accepted and even celebrated part of the life of the organisation and its people. To support this, be clear about the purpose and vision of every change, so people understand the rationale and expected outcomes. Remember that communication takes time, and requires repetition and a mix of media (both formal and informal) to ensure that messages are successfully delivered. Build strong relationships with your ambassadors when communicating change. They will support others through changes, and will help the process of change to become normalised. 

Tailoring communications based on audience and engagement levels

When leading change, you will need to vary your communications depending on where in the 'change curve ' people are. Take a look below at the different responses and forms of communication that you may need to use, depending on the engagement of those affected by the change.