Successful organizational change depends on effective strategic communication and change management.
Failure to communicate effectively can have several negative effects, such as:
- Lowered employee motivation
- Increased employee resistance and frustration
- Decreased productivity
- Lengthened project timelines
These problems can all add up. And, in worst case scenarios, they can negatively impact project objectives – or even cause a project to fail.
So how do you improve communication and get better results from your program?
The 4 M’s of Strategic Communication and Change Management
Effective communication is an essential principle of change management.
However, just having communication skills is not enough.
To really have a measurable impact, you need a communications strategy.
A strategy will help you in a few ways:
- It will provide a clear direction to move in
- You will have specific, measurable goals to work towards
- Your progress can be tracked and adjusted
- Communications efforts can be optimized and improved
- Your communications strategy can be integrated with other aspects of your change program
These are just a few reasons why a communications plan – a strategy – is so essential.
Below, we’ll cover the 4 M’s that can serve as cornerstones for your change management communication strategy.
With these 4 cornerstones in place, you can build upon them and customize as required.
Let’s get started
Your messages are the building blocks of your communications strategy.
Messages are what you say and how you say it.
Your messaging strategy should include:
- Your vision of change. This is the final vision for your change program. It is what you hope to attain after the change program is complete.
- Stories to inspire change. The change story is closely related to your vision for change. Effective stories and storytelling will help you inspire motivation, action, and emotion.
- Benefits. Messages should relay the benefits of the change program. This will help employees feel the personal value of the program.
Messaging can and should be adapted as needed, based on its effectiveness.
The medium is the format of your message.
Today, we have a variety of options when it comes to communications medium, format, and style.
Messages can be communicated through:
- Video programs and courses
To name a few.
Because each employee has different preferences when it comes to communication styles, it pays to learn about those preferences.
The more personalized and unique you can make your communications, the better employees will respond to your communications.
To make the most of your communications, understand the four modalities of learning:
You may not have the budget or time to accommodate all four modalities.
But the more you can incorporate into your communications strategy, the higher your engagement will be.
In project management, milestones are signposts along the way towards the completion of a goal.
In your communications strategy, they can be used to:
- Schedule your project
- Record progress
- Inform others of your progress
- Deliver short-term wins
They are useful not just for yourself, but also for demonstrating progress to employees and stakeholders.
Using milestones as a communications tool can help employees stay motivated, productive, and engaged.
They can also tie your communications strategy to your project timeline.
This can help you keep your communications strategy integrated with your change management roadmap.
Metrics allow you to analyze the effectiveness of your communications strategy.
Change management data can include:
- Open rates for emails, web pages, and digital communiques
- Response rates for surveys or polls
- Attendance rates for events, meetings, webinars, and so forth
To be useful, though, metrics should be able to tell you if you are making progress.
Employee feedback, for instance, can help you understand employee:
And so on.
If you are adopting new digital tools, engagement and productivity metrics can offer a great deal of insight.
They can tell you about the effectiveness of your:
- Onboarding program
- Software training
- Communications strategy
At the end of the day, you should be choosing metrics that track progress against your goals and milestones.
Tying It All Together
A communications strategy should be hard-coded into a roadmap.
That is, create a stage-based timeline that includes:
- Messages and activities
- Medium and modalities
- Milestones and objectives
- Metrics and analytics
A communications plan, such as a roadmap, can serve as your go-to strategy reference.
Dividing it up into these four M’s can help you keep clear and organized.
And it will help you develop a communications strategy with specific goals.
A good communications strategy will have a measurable, positive impact when applied properly.
These four M’s offer an excellent launchpad to start from.
And if you them together in a roadmap, you will have a solid plan of action.
Taking this approach will certainly help you get better results … both from your communications program and your change management efforts.
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.