Change management and communication go hand in hand.
Without effective communication, change projects will go nowhere:
- Employees will not understand what’s expected of them
- Executives won’t be able to keep tabs on a project
- Change managers won’t know how their project is performing or how it is perceived
- Employee resistance will likely spike
As many change managers know, communication is the most important skill in this discipline.
To keep employees productive, on track, and engaged, communication is the first step.
Below are 7 tactics that can help you improve your communication efforts when managing change.
1. Use Online Collaboration Tools
There are plenty of online collaboration tools that can improve communication with employees.
Online collaboration helps for a number of reasons – communication is faster, more efficient, and less intrusive.
Here are a few examples of tools that can improve your collaborative efforts:
- Online Chats
- Internal Blogs
- Knowledge Portals
- Automation Tools
Modern enterprises probably use all of these methods.
However, organizations that are still evolving their digital capabilities should explore some new options.
2. Create Mechanisms for Collecting Feedback
Feedback mechanisms make it easier to collect feedback.
It’s easier and more convenient for employees as well as change managers.
Here are a few examples:
- Online Surveys
- Knowledge Bases
- Online Chats
Each mechanism has its own use case scenarios.
Choose the right one to improve employee engagement and help you stay connected to your staff.
3. Create Communication Campaigns with Specific Targets
A communications campaign is like a marketing campaign.
It has goals and can be measured.
Setting hard targets and specific aims is important.
It requires more responsibility on the manager’s part, true. But this also ensures that every communication has a purpose.
Here is a simple process to follow:
- Set specific goals for a campaign. Each communication plan should have specific, quantifiable targets. An overarching aim could be building awareness, while a specific target could be communicating the stages of a change plan.
- Track results. Feedback, mentioned above, can help you gauge progress. At each point, you can collect feedback that demonstrates whether employees understand, how they feel, and so forth.
- Analyze progress. A communication plan may achieve more or less than its target. Use quantitative metrics and feedback to determine your results, then adjust future communication strategies.
Finally, rinse and repeat.
4. Build Your Communication and Leadership Skills
Whether or not the change manager is the project head, he or she should have leadership skills.
Good leadership skills can directly impact project results, employee resistance, and morale, among other things.
There are many ways to develop leadership ability.
Here are a few examples:
- Work with mentors and coaches
- Stay up-to-date on change management research
- Accept more responsibility when opportunities present themselves
- Research and study leadership topics
A change manager, by definition, holds a great deal of responsibility.
The better they are able to handle that responsibility, the better their results will be.
5. Use Multiple Mediums
Not all people learn the same.
In general, there are four formats that cater to all learners:
- Audio – Such as in-person teaching or online audio files
- Video – Through webinars or online video files
- Text – Such as blog articles or email
- Kinesthetic – That is, learning by doing
It is not always possible to deliver content in all of these formats, of course.
However, it is possible to combine multiple formats – a video, for instance, can contain both audio and text.
Digital adoption platforms (DAPs), likewise, implement kinesthetic learning along with text, helping people learn as they go.
6. Hold Regular Reviews
Accountability is crucial in change management.
Reviews help you stay on target and monitor progress.
But they also form an important communication function – they help you:
- Keep the change project front-of-mind with participants
- Stay on the same page as participants
- Build rapport
- Monitor people’s attitudes and perceptions
Among other things.
Use these reviews as opportunities to further engage employees and build motivation.
However, don’t stop with reviews…
7. Engage Employees with Exercises and Events
Engagement is a top concern during change management projects – because, in many cases, employees are reluctant to change.
For that reason, change managers should make it a priority.
Here are techniques and exercises you can use to improve communication and engagement:
- Change Management Exercises
- Team-Building Exercises
- Social Events
- Gamification and Contests
If you can think of other creative ways to engage employees, test them out.
The more engaged people are, the more communicative and open they will be.
Communication is essential in change management.
And although many consider it to be a soft skill, it has a “hard” side.
That is, effective communication strategies require communication mechanisms, specific quantitative goals, metrics, strategies, and tactics.
Hopefully the tactics presented here can help you improve your project results and establish rapport with your employees and your staff.
For more articles about change management topics – from communication to strategy – be sure to browse the rest of our blog.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.