Why Communication in Change Management is Important?
Facilitating any significant change within an organization can be challenging. In larger companies particularly, it can be even more complicated because there are many different teams that will be affected by any new operating procedures. That’s why all potential consequences must be addressed and worked through for the change to be successful.
Maintaining unified, open and consistent communication is the most important factor to help your team navigate the murky waters of change management, so don’t neglect to form a comprehensive communication plan.
Why is change management so important?
The simple fact is that life itself is all about adapting to change. This universal truth is just as applicable to the business world as it is to everyday social interactions. As technology progresses at an increasingly rapid rate, companies are expected to keep up and adapt to changing market conditions in order to survive. If they lag, they open themselves up to losing a significant competitive advantage over their rivals.
As far back as 2011, the Harvard Business Review claimed that adaptability to changes within an organization was the new competitive advantage. This is even more true today as a new metric, the Adaptability Quotient, is now widely used to measure an organization’s or individual’s ability to adapt to an evolving business landscape. Over time, it’s been proven by this metric that an organization can either embrace and drive change or risk descending into obscurity.
Efficient change management
It isn’t enough to want to change your organization – you must be equipped with the right tools and leadership before starting any initiative to get desired results. Inefficient change projects that aren’t driven by the right technology or conducted without management support simply won’t bring about the return on investment (ROI) necessary to justify them. In fact, Google claims that companies with well-thought-out change management programs receive nearly 30% more ROI than those with poor or no set programs.
Furthermore, the global consultancy group McKinsey & Company estimates that up to 70% of company transformation goals fail. You do not want to be in that unfortunate group – some businesses never recover from a failed transformation project.
So, what are some components of an efficient change management program?
There are many variables to consider. In another Google study, the most important factors for a successful plan included:
- Strong buy-in from executive leadership (45%)
- Continuous engagement with lower-level employees (42%)
- Improved communications (32%)
- Training on new procedures before and after change implementation (69%)
If you read between the lines a bit, you’ll see that all of these indicators relate to improved communication. That’s why consistently fostering open lines of communication between employees and management will greatly improve a project’s chances for success.
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Communication plan during transformation project
Communications initiatives must be enacted during the project to motivate employees to take ownership of the change. The 4-Factor model posits that the purpose of a communication plan is to move your staff through the following stages:
- Awareness: Introduce the idea of the change throughout the corporate hierarchy. You need to manage employee expectations and detail the list of positive benefits the change will foster within the company.
- Understanding: Go into more detail about the change and how it will affect both teams and individuals. Prepare employees for any potential issues and deal with problem areas before any toxicity occurs.
- Acceptance: Empower employees to manifest the change and see the benefits. They will move past any anxiety or misgivings.
- Ownership: Give praise and credit to the team members who made positive contributions during the project phase once the change is implemented. When doing so, emphasize that your staff made it possible as a result of their buy-in and participation. This will prepare them for future changes, which will be smoother to implement because they will already have been through the process before.
Implementing a change management plan can take weeks or months to navigate, but as long as you plot your progress along the way, you’ll be able to harness various techniques to keep the momentum moving forward to completion.
So, what are some ways to communicate effectively during organizational change? Here are our top practical tips to maintain effective communication throughout a major change:
1. Communicate consistently
A major source of pushback from employees is fear of the unknown. They may not understand why the change is being implemented and what it means for their job security. It is important to be open and honest throughout the entire process and communicate with them on a regular basis with updates.
2. Use multiple communication channels
There are many ways to communicate with your employees. Since individual employees will respond better to different methods than others, be sure not to rely on a singular channel. Send frequent emails, create videos, hold in-person chat sessions and more. This is where having a tool like a social intranet can help. You can use it as a portal to schedule emails, make internal web pages, attach rich media content and incorporate social media functions to engage your staff on a deeper level.
3. Allow for and incorporate feedback
Many workers get stressed when they feel there is no outlet for feedback or their feedback is not being taken seriously. Be open to adjusting your change implementation when necessary based on the feedback received. There are always external factors that haven’t been considered. When these occur, do not ignore them. Applications such as social internets can help you integrate surveys and other feedback tools to adjust to any of those external factors while making collection and analysis of how your employees are responding much easier to quantify.
4. Be honest
It isn’t a crime to not know an answer. Being too aloof will lower confidence in leadership, and exaggerating or distorting the truth to appear more knowledgeable has a much greater chance to backfire. If you don’t know an answer to an employee question, just say so. Then research it and get back to the person as soon as possible. Remember, if your answer is too vague or turns out to be untrue, your people won’t be able to take you at your word on future questions. Remember, a leader is only as good as their credibility. You can maintain it most effectively by being open, honest and transparent.
5. Review progress publicly
Change is a journey, and like any journey, people need to know where they’re at and when they will reach their destination or else they’ll get restless. Chart your progress and share it with your employees on a regular basis. Be open about roadblocks and what leadership is doing to move past them. The bottom line is nobody wants to feel lost and out of control. Technology tools like social intranets provide a fantastic framework from which to share information and keep everyone up-to-date on your progress along the way. Targeted data and reaching key milestones can be documented and sent to specific teams so that everyone always knows exactly where they are in the process.
An arduous but necessary journey
As we said at the beginning of this piece, change is inevitable in your business and social life. However, the businesses that have the best plans and technology for implementing organizational change will adapt more quickly and perform better than their peers. LumApps social intranet is an amazing tool for fostering change efficiently throughout all levels of your company. If you’re interested in its features and how it can help you, contact us for a demonstration.
May 12, 2020