Susan & Renée
Change is inevitable in business. Sometimes the change is exciting and new. You roll out a new product or you are able to offer employees a new benefit. Other times it may be tense and difficult. Like letting people know about a hiring freeze or layoff.
Whether it is positive or negative, HOW you communicate can substantially influence the perception of the change and the level of employee engagement.
It has been shown over and over that when change is communicated effectively it results in increased trust, performance and job satisfaction. When it is not done well it can result in widespread rumors, cynicism and turnover.
This type of communication takes time, patience and skill from a variety of leaders throughout an organization. Keeping stakeholders involved and empowered not only makes the change easier, but builds trust which can lead to a more vibrant company culture.
If you are facing any type of change in your organization, these tools will be essential to have in your communication toolbox:
Use diverse communication methods: Make sure to use a variety of media. This can include email, all-hands meetings, company communication apps, home mailings (especially if family members are affected) and an FAQ for nitty-gritty details. Change can make people nervous. Having the information in a variety of places can increase employees' comfort.
Have the communication process cascade throughout the organization: The overall message of change needs to come from “the top” and should be clear and concise. But communication doesn’t stop there. Each level of management needs to be equipped with the tools to have conversations with their people.
Engage stakeholders: To continue to support a healthy company culture it is important to touch base with those impacted. This means providing opportunities and time for stakeholders to ask questions, provide input, and process what the change means for them. Doing this will help you understand their perspectives and allow you to acknowledge their concerns. This creates a shared understanding, helping people feel respected and cared for.
Pay attention to the environment in which the change is happening: Change does not occur in a vacuum. Context counts and has a direct impact on employees’ reactions. If a new leader has just come on board, more explanation may be necessary because the trust level between employees and the new leader is lower.
Assess the communication strategy throughout the process: As we know in interpersonal communication, our messages are not always received in the way we intend. Think of the last time you had a fight with a significant other. They often start due to a communication snafu. Check in with your staff via surveys, in person meetings or conversations with trusted sources.
Utilizing these tools can help you leverage the benefits that come from change. Even when the change is tough, it can encourage innovation, identify business opportunities, develop new skills, point out leadership potential and build a cohesive culture.
G2 Solutions can help you develop a communication strategy for any situation. Contact us to find out how.