Whether a business is required to adapt to a new or emerging market, whether it needs to improve efficiencies in-house, or whether it is embarking on business growth or diversity it will need to manage its change to be successful. Communication is the number one driver of change, so how can you effectively implement successful change in your business through communication and engagement?
Where do you start?
Engagement and communication is the number one enabler in empowering people to participate in and to lead change agendas. What communications are required to ensure people understand, accept and positively contribute to the changes that will take place is therefore a key question you need to ask.
Communicating and engaging does not have to be a huge burden for an organisation, a project or a manager. You just need to ensure your communications are targeted and that the correct key messages are being delivered in a timely manner. It helps to think of communications in three phases – (1) Preparation (2) Acceptance (3) Commitment to achieve this.
Preparation Phase – The goal in this phase is to ensure stakeholders are prepared and knowledgeable about pending changes.
- Introduce stakeholders to the change, its benefits, advise transition plans, business approach to the change and importantly what it means to them
Acceptance Phase – The goal in this phase is to ensure stakeholders are managed to reduce resistance and increase readiness in relation to changes being implemented.
- Make stakeholders so familiar with the new world, that when they commence training (one of the final activities of change management), they can concentrate on acquiring the skills they need, rather than asking questions about why the change is happening what it will mean for them
- Build belief in the solution – Ensure people know how they will be supported; provide relevant specific detail of how they will be impacted and what the expectations are on them
- Ensure communications are 2 way and that people are offered opportunity to identify and address barriers.
Commitment Phase – The goals in this phase is to ensure stakeholders are committed to their new role requirements.
- Throughout the lifecycle of the change agenda keep reinforcing the importance of commitment to new requirements and consequences to individuals, their teams and the business if objectives are not met
- Ensure all stakeholders understand how they are tracking to the desired outcomes you are looking for
- It assist greatly to monitor and investigate the effectiveness of your change announcement communications and learning’s from your delivery approach to further inform preparation and acceptance communication and engagement activities
- If people are not committed you will need to go back to acceptance phase communications. Resistance can sometimes be mistaken for lack of information
Your overall communication goal should be to ensure the 3 ‘R’s of change communications – Right message, Right time, and Right audience.
Ann Bonney is a Change Practice Lead at Management Effect (www.managementeffect.com.au) and has a proven track record in managing people change in complex environments.