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Let’s face it, change is hard. It’s also necessary and inevitable for companies to thrive well into the future.
What’s also inevitable is a change initiative tanking if there’s a poor or nonexistent communication plan. These communication ‘don’ts’ may seem obvious but are worth repeating.
1. Minimize or ignore the “soft” side of change. This might be the biggest 'don't' of them all. A new strategy, process and technology are nil if your employees are disinterested and disengaged. At the end of the day, it’s the people who are affected by change, right? Communication is fundamental for them to understand, manage and embrace it. If your communication plan is focused solely on the change (organizational, strategy or process/technology) and not the people side of it, it’s missed the mark.
2. Assume certain audiences are already in the know. To assume…well, you know how the saying goes. Even if some groups are in the loop, their information may be inaccurate, have holes and lack the big picture. And if any of those groups have a role to play to champion the change or cascade information, they need guidance for what, how, when, to whom, etc. to communicate.
3. Use only one-way communications. You’ll more than likely need to tap into your arsenal of communication channels, and not just the ones managed by the Communications team. Face-to-face and other two-way communications are so important; otherwise, you can kiss employee adoption and engagement buh-bye! Plus, these forums are a great way to pulse employee perception and understanding, address their questions and concerns, and help create buy-in.
4. Create an inflexible communication plan. We’re talking about change, right? You can’t predict people’s behavior and reactions, so your communication plan needs to flex and account for the different stages of the change curve. A specific group or groups may need more and/or different communication at different points than you originally anticipated, and that’s OK (and frankly, part of the change continuum). What’s not OK is a communication plan that is linear and never revisited once it’s created.
5. Stop communicating once the change initiative launches. Effective change management is not a one-time activity that stops at launch and neither are the communications that support it. A lack of communication following a launch can signal a lack of company commitment (among other things)…to which employees may follow suit. If you stop communicating, you leave employees to fill in the blanks themselves. You may alter your messages along the way, but don’t stop reinforcing them.
What other ‘don’ts’ would you add to the list?
Learn how Bronn Communications, LLC can be a resource for your change communication needs.
Bronn Communications is an Atlanta-based internal communications agency that helps companies reach and engage their most important audience and brand advocates—employees.