Full article with thanks to: blog.smarp.com/change-communication-definition-and-best-practices
Implementing the right change communication strategy is never an easy job. As most people resist change in the workplace, effective change…
Implementing the right change communication strategy is never an easy job. As most people resist change in the workplace, effective change communications is the most important prerequisite for a successful organisational change.
The business world has been undergoing significant changes in the past few months. Organisations are updating their policies, procedures and strategies in order to mitigate the negative consequences of the current pandemic.
That’s why change communication now plays a crucial role in ensuring business continuity.
In this blog, you will learn about the best practices for driving effective change communication in the workplace.
The Definition of Change Communication
Change communication is the informational component of the change management strategy. It helps employees and other stakeholders understand the importance and scope of the new initiatives.
Every change communication strategy should consist of delivering timely, relevant and consistent information and documents, as well as mechanisms to share feedback, raise concerns and ask questions.
Whether you are implementing new technology, updating existing business practices, going through changes in leadership or undergoing a merger or acquisition, change communication is essential to helping people move from where they are today to the desired future state.
Moreover, the current pandemic is continuously reminding us about the importance of employee communications in shaping a positive employee experience in the workplace.
4 Stages of Change Communications
To be successful and effective, every change communication strategy should go through the 4 main stages explained below:
1. Awareness — Building internal awareness through clear, timely and personalised change communication sent via employees’ favourite communication channels in order to eliminate or mitigate employees’ fear and resistance to change.
2. Understanding — Communicating the what, why, how, when, who as well as the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) is important to help employees understand the benefits of the change and see the positive sides of it.
3. Acceptance — In this stage, employees accept the change and act in accordance with their employer’s instructions. However, it is the employer’s job to keep employees updated, encourage their share of voice and make them feel involved in the process.
4. Commitment — Once employees accept change, change communication is not done. Moreover, this is the stage in which most change initiatives fail. Communication needs to keep flowing, employees need to be able to collaborate and employers need to spot and reward their change ambassadors.
11 Change Communication Best Practices to Follow
73% of change-affected employees report experiencing moderate to high-stress levels. Those suffering from change-related stress perform 5% worse than the average employee. The main goal of every change management strategy is to mitigate these trends and better support business transformation.
Let’s now take a look into some best change communication practices.
1. Build a solid change communication strategy
Before you start with your change communications efforts, you should first put down a compelling change communications strategy and plan.
Your plan should consist of:
- Clearly defining the change and vision for the future
- Assessing all the factors related to the change
- Analysing all the stakeholders affected
- Considering changes to day-to-day operations
- Defining key messages
- Creating inspiring and motivational internal content
- Building an editorial communications calendar
- Defining and understanding various internal audiences
- Choosing the right communications channels needed to reach the right employees at the right time
- Measuring the impact of your communications efforts
💡 Also take a look at these 5 change management models to choose from.
2. Get the leaders and managers on board
The role of leadership in change communications is crucial.
Front-line supervisors, middle managers as well as C-level executives should all act as role models who know how to drive change and encourage employees to embed new behaviours. This is even more important in this situation where employees expect their leaders to be authentic and trustworthy communicators.
For any change to be successful, leaders should continuously lead their teams and reinforce progress. However, even though employees want to hear from leaders during change, research proves that this is not always the case.
A Towers Watson study found that while 68% of senior managers say they understand why organisational change is happening, the number falls from there. Only 53% of middle managers really get the message, and only 40% of front-line supervisors understand the change.
But if management doesn’t understand why change is happening and how it is affecting the workplace, they will have a hard time explaining the process and its impacts on the business to their employees.
3. Get your internal communications department on board
As mentioned earlier, if managers don’t understand the benefits and the consequences of the new process launched at the company, they can’t communicate it to their teams either.
However, it is not only the manager’s job to drive open and transparent workplace communications. One of the internal communications department’s missions is to support the managers in creating and distributing consistent messages to the employees.
Additionally, internal communications managers have an important role to play in urging management to communicate, crafting, reviewing and update their change communications messages.
4. Define the most effective communication channels
Delivering timely and relevant information is crucial for successful change communications. In order to ensure that the right message reaches the right employees at the right time, it is critical that employers understand their internal communications channels and define the ones that are most likely to catch employees’ attention.
Even though email is still a common way to get these messages out, this is not the most effective form of communication at work anymore. Moreover, important and relevant emails bake only 38% of your employees’ inboxes. That means that employees tend to ignore their emails due to the extensive information overload and content irrelevancy.
On the other hand, many enterprise communication ecosystems have become so complex that it may be impossible for employers to really understand how employees use them. Instead, consider implementing a modern employee communications solution that has the ability to consolidate all of your communication channels into a single platform.
5. Communicate frequently to eliminate fatigue
Communications leaders report managing change fatigue as their top mission-critical priority. Key to this is an effective change communications strategy that delivers the right information, messages and resources at the right time to enable employees to succeed and make them accept the change.
Many employees will remember the current pandemic as the most stressful period of their careers. Some are concerned about their health while others are concerned about losing their jobs, and most employees are struggling to keep up with all the new company’s rules and regulations.
When change is first announced, most employees will be in denial, rejecting it. This is why it is crucial to clearly define what kind of information should be communicated and how often it should be shared with employees.
When crafting your change communications messages, think about these questions your employees may have:
- What does change entail?
- What are the goals?
- How employees’ roles may be impacted?
- What is the time frame for it?
- Where to find and access important company updates?
- How to communicate change?
- How to make sure employees embrace change?
6. Build internal awareness with creative communication campaigns
Today’s internal communicators also need to be creating content creators. Employees won’t react to just any kind of internal campaign anymore. We could even say that it is IC professionals’ job to get the employees’ buy-in during change, making their job very similar to what marketers and salespeople do.
When creating change communications campaigns, think out of the box. For example, instead of just sending an internal newsletter, consider creating a fun video. Instead of making a company-wide email announcement, create a channel designated to the change where people can also join the conversation.
Remember, when your employees are on board and engaged with your change initiative, the chances of launching a successful change strategy increases by 30%.
7. Make communication personal and relevant
One of the biggest challenges with internal change communications is audience segmentation that enables content localisation, personalisation and relevancy. Yet, if you send more than a few irrelevant emails to your employees, expect no attention from them in the future.
If you are implementing change, it will probably not have the same impact on your employees in the US and Asia, remote and in-office employees, digital and blue-collar employees, employees in marketing versus employees working in production departments.
Again, the current situation is a great example of the importance of content relevancy especially if you are in the healthcare, travel and tourism or the retail industry. Front-line employees working in those industries may be at a higher risk of getting infected than the ones working from home.
Therefore, change communications messages can not be the same for everyone. One size does not fit all!
8. Clear the path to two-way communications
When employees can talk publicly or in a closed group about their feelings, concerns and experiences, or when they have the ability to ask their leadership questions, it helps them feel like they have a voice in change.
Full article with thanks to: blog.smarp.com/change-communication-definition-and-best-practices
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