5 simple truths about com­mu­ni­cat­ing change
Jeff & Lindsay Sage / 7 February 2020

Most organizational change efforts fail.

And it’s causing record levels of angst and unrest in the workplace.

Mergers.
Acquisitions.
Restructuring.
Regulatory changes.
Leadership transitions.
Increased competition.
Technological advances.
Greater mobility of people and capital.
Plain old fashioned success. Take your pick.  

Consistently delivering results in an increasingly competitive and evolving environment is taxing. Despite best intentions, employees don’t often understand why change is happening.

And when you communicate poorly, people resist change. Reality or perception, the consequences are real and lasting. 

Leaders are making decisions more quickly and teams are forced to react. To employees, this can feel like a seemingly never-ending stream of new opportunities and threats.

Communicating through change is now as important as the act of changing itself.

Top tips (and truths) to get you started

  1. Listen: as you’re leading the change process, give more consideration to the voices around you than the ones echoing in your head;
  2. Decide what matters: Once you’ve got clarity here, you can focus the bulk of your time making it happen;
  3. Enable loyalty, connection and belonging: Build a shared commitment to results. Intentionally foster a willingness for team members to deliver on and report on their contributions. Recognize and reward the efforts of those who help others outside their functional roles; 
  4. Time it: The ideal time to receive change comms is when people are in a position to act. Think just in time, not just because;
  5. Make it personal: Personalized messages build more effective support for new behaviours. If you’re too big or resource restricted to engage face to face, map your internal teams with the care and craftsmanship of your customer personas and deliver compelling messages in the most relevant channels.

Repetition remains the foundation of good communication. When you’re sick of saying it, they’re hearing it for the first time.

Organizational change is slow. If your ship feels like it’s turning fast, something’s broken. 

Early adopters will see the change (and benefit) at the outset and some won’t notice until the process is at its natural end.

Good change comms will inform both groups.
Great change comms will make the change feel necessary, urgent, real and exciting. It will build and steward momentum, and shared ownership.

When your teams are finally in synch, the change will become self-reinforcing - and engagement will soar.

It will make the new way of doing things feel like the way they’ve always been done.

A welcomed change, indeed.


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