A lack of effective communication is a common complaint in many organisations, but it can be a particularly serious issue when organisations are going through periods of change.
In times of change, employees need to know what is happening and why, and they need transparency, openness, and honesty from leaders.
So how can you avoid being one of the leaders that doesn’t do communication well?
Here are the ten commandments of communication in change management.
- Remember that when it comes to change, there is no such thing as over-communicating. Put together a communication plan to make sure nothing, or nobody, gets left out.
- Communicate regularly and consistently across different channels as people understand and assimilate information in different ways. Include updates and information in staff bulletin boards, emails, meetings, and newsletters.
- Tell people everything they need to know as soon as you know. If employees feel like you are holding anything back, this can damage trust. Make it clear that any information you give them might be subject to change, but that your priority is to keep them informed in a timely manner.
- Involve people in the change process. Employees won’t feel positive about or invested in change that has been imposed on them from above. Give them time and space to ask questions and raise concerns.
- Explain why the change is necessary and how it’s likely to affect people. Being clear on this will prevent people from filling in the blanks themselves and spreading fear and uncertainty.
- Remember that communication is a two-way street. Don’t just announce one day that things are changing and walk away. Have discussions with employees about what will be expected of them and what they can expect from the organisation.
- Accentuate the positives. Communicate why the change is needed and what the vision is for the business once the change has been successfully implemented. How might things be better? This can help people see the big picture and rally them behind a common vision.
- If you don’t have the answers your employees are looking for, don’t pretend that you do. If you make things up to appease people, give them false information, or seem like you don’t know what you are talking about, this can seriously affect trust and your credibility as a leader. If you don’t know, just keep it simple and say you’ll find out.
- Listen. This is a very important and underrated communication skill. Listen to your employees and demonstrate empathy and understanding. Getting defensive or making excuses will reflect badly. Be the leader who gives it to people straight. Your employees will respect you all the more for it.
- Don’t be the invisible leader! When people feel fearful and uncertain about changes that are going to happen, the worst thing you can do as a leader is hide away. You need to spend time talking to employees, answering questions, offering support, and allaying fears where you can.
Change is never easy, as generally, people don’t like uncertainty, especially when they are used to things being a certain way. But it is possible to do change well, and one of the keys to successful change is communication. Without it, gaining trust, implementing change successfully, and moving forward easily is just not possible.
Are you in the process of leading change?
Do you know that change is needed to take things from good to great in the business but you have no idea how to introduce it successfully and keep your team onside?
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