Change is a major challenge for most organisations. Research suggests that 70% of change projects are not sustained. In a period of change, communication is key. If we are honest, most of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty. In times of change, people become frightened, resistant, go into denial and may even be angry. There is no magic formula for getting rid of these feelings, but open communication can go a long way to reducing the impact. So what are 7 things you can do to improve communication in a period of change?
1. Communicate the case for change
Individuals need to fully understand:
People will have without doubt given a lot of commitment to the organisation, so make sure that you make the time to get across the case for change.
2. Communicate regularly
Once the case for change is communicated and it clear that is going to happen, make regular communication a priority. This can be something as simple as a weekly e-mail or even audio e-mail which:
3. Provide opportunities to ask questions
Traditionally this might have been through open meetings or focus groups and these are still appropriate. Using technology to allow people to submit questions to a central point is another excellent way of addressing concerns and getting insights into what is worrying people. These questions can even provide the focus of the weekly communications, as it is likely that common themes will arise.
4. Provide opportunities to submit ideas
There is a wealth of talent in the organisation who have numerous ideas that can help make change projects a success. Make it easy for people to submit those ideas online or in traditional forms such as suggestion boxes.
5. Feedback on questions and ideas
It is clearly not possible to feedback on every question or idea submitted, but it is easy to group them and feedback on themes.
6. Be honest
People may not like bad news but will appreciate it more than someone being less than 100% honest with them. Make a decision at the outset to be honest in your communications.
7. Train your managers
If people have concerns, their manager will usually be the first person they will speak to. Make sure that you have provided some basic training to managers on how best to handle these communications.
Change is a major challenge and should not be underestimated. Good communication can however go a long way towards making change as smooth as possible.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 7,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.