One of the biggest hurdles encountered in change management is the underestimation of the importance of change management communication. Now, this may sound like an odd claim, but you’ll see what I mean in a minute. In any organization, communication is one of the most important things regardless the scenario, task at hand or department in question. If the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, then disaster will undoubtedly happen, right?
So, change management communication is obviously important, and you most likely understand that. And you’re probably finding yourself saying “yes, and we pay attention to communication and the facilitation of it, so what’re you on about, internet guy?” Well, I’ll tell you.
The problem I am talking about isn’t that people ignore communication outright, it’s that they unknowingly omit elements of communication that are very important, or at least don’t put the proper focus on ensuring clarity and quality on some aspects that they probably should.
So, let me point out a couple communications elements that are vital in change management, and why. Maybe then you’ll stop and think “hmm, maybe I should double check that that element is getting the attention it needs”.
#1 – Communication of Change Needs to Staff
This is the biggest one, and a lot of your hurdles with resistance from staff to the proposed changes can be overcome if communication here is handled properly.
So, make sure that you’re communicating why change needs to be made, what the changes really involve, and what they stand to gain from cooperating. If you make sure this communication is handled well, then people are going to be far more cooperative, and you’ll spend less time unfreezing people to new ideas.
#2 – Reporting Progress and Issues
You probably have this one covered, which is what has maybe led you to believe you’re more on top of communication in this field than you might actually be. But, it is important to maintain frequent reports of progress to stakeholders, financial people and anyone else not directly involved in change who may still be affected.
This involves the current progress, resources being consumed, resources needed, and of course, any problems that are showing up. Problems can include difficulty staff are having with changes, later-discovered impracticality of a change goal, or policy clashes.
#3 – Feedback from Staff
This one is overlooked too much, because organizations tend to think “you work for me so do what I say”. Well, that’s true in a professional environment, but totalitarianism has historically never worked in any type of organization.
So, you need to make sure that communication of issues, concerns or complaints staff may have are possible to you as a change manager, and that you, too, report this feedback in the reports above.
Staff need to feel that they can approach you with these problems, and that no negative consequences will come of speaking one’s mind. If you try to force changes without addressing their concerns, or fail to communicate these concerns to the people in authority, then the whole exercise will grind to a halt and possibly even fail completely.
So, of course you know that change management communication is important, but maybe this has given you insight into how many facets that really has, and has gotten you to thinking about maybe giving your communication another once over before deeming it all good.
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.