We’re all familiar with the old adage “the only constant is change”. And while we all know this to be true, organizational changes are still often met with resistance or fear of the unknown. As an employer, careful planning, effective communication can go a long ways towards making change something that employees welcome!
Normalize change. Changes are happening all the time at work. People leave, new hires come on board, strategies are revamped, new technology is introduced… the list goes on. Normalize change and reduce fear by championing an organizational culture that celebrates change, reminding everyone that change is an important contributor to success, and highlighting the positive shifts that will make their work lives easier!
You don’t need to have all the answers. Openly share about what is happening.If you don’t know something yet, it’s okay to say that too! While it can be tempting to wait until you have nailed down every detail of the plan before notifying employees, holding off on sharing any news is likely a mistake. By the time you’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”, chances are good that the grapevine will have been working overtime. It’s okay to drop the façade and admit that you don’t have all the answers quite yet. Instead of holding out, share what you DO know about what’s coming, keeping the tone light and factual. Frequent and brief is best when it comes to communicating change. Keeping employees in the loop as developments occur gives everyone the chance to anticipate and react appropriately, rather than feeling like a bomb has been dropped in their laps.
Use multiple platforms for important announcements. If an email is important enough that everyone NEEDS to read it, it’s important enough to share on multiple platforms. Let’s be real: we all receive a lot of emails every day, and it’s easy for a message to get lost or overlooked. If you only send announcements via email, chances are pretty good that the message will get buried in at least one inbox. Regular town hall meetings can be a great way to share important news that might otherwise end up at the bottom of the “unread” pile. Meeting in smaller groups can also provide a valuable opportunity to debrief and review FAQs on changes as well.
Address your audience. Big organizational shifts can mean different things depending on where you sit on the organizational chart. What matters most to you might not be as significant to a front line employee. Consider who will receive your message, and tailor updates accordingly. Answer the questions: What will this mean for the person you’re addressing? What’s in it for them?
Stay on message. There is nothing worse than being caught lead-footed. Present a cohesive front as a leadership team by ensuring messaging is clear and consistent, the rationale is understood and communicated transparently, and you’ve anticipated likely questions and thought through answers so you’re all on the same page.
Keep lines of communication open. While initial announcements tend to come from the top, it’s essential to create channels for feedback and reactions from employees. Creating opportunities for team members to share thoughts, feelings, and suggestions regarding changes is an essential part of gaining buy in. Welcome input, acknowledge feedback received, and look for ways to act on common themes. All feedback is good feedback, so walk the talk when it comes to your open door policy!
Your Engaged HR Assignment:
Changes on the horizon? Using the list above as prompts, set aside a few minutes to discuss as a leadership team how you have communicated changes in the past, and identify ways you can improve upon your communication strategy this time around.
Change management isn’t easy! Not sure how your announcement will land for employees? Send us a message or give us a call!