One of the things that has struck me most when working with organisations and individuals going through change is that change is always personal. Change happens when each individual moves – literally or metaphorically – from position A to position B. When enough individuals make this move, the change becomes organisation-wide.
Too many change leaders forget this and plan their communications from the organisation-wide perspective. This means that they mistakenly:
- Plan blanket communications – one message that is meant to appeal at all levels and across all functions.
- Focus on the impact of the change on the organisation, not on the individuals who will make the change a reality.
- Plan the change from a rational perspective without taking account of the emotional impact on people.
All of this builds unnecessary resistance which makes the change harder to implement.
To facilitate change, three critical steps to consider when planning your communications:
- ‘One-size-fits-all’ messages do not work. You must tailor your communications to different groups. In this way you will win initial engagement with the change.
- Individuals worry about what the change will mean for them. Once individuals understand the change, they want to know what impact it will have on them personally. This is best done on a one-to-one basis between the individual and their immediate line manager.
- Change is the factual move from situation A to situation B; the emotional transition that individuals make to adapt to the new situation has to be managed as a separate process. It does not get taken into account if change managers focus only on Gantt charts, milestones and key deliverables.
What communications about change have most engaged you? What was it about those communications that made them engaging?