Newmeasures: Insights for an exceptional workforce

Communicating Change

“If you always do what you’ve done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”

What to Know

It’s no secret that dealing with change is difficult. But, by thoughtfully managing change initiatives your chances of success improve tremendously. To help employees navigate change be sure to: 1) help people understand the reason for the change – what’s in it for them? 2) involve people in decision making to earn their buy-in 3) communicate, communicate, communicate, and 4) ensure processes and procedures support the change so it actually sticks.

Mythbusters

Just because a message is communicated doesn’t mean it has been heard. Managers are often employees’ best link to understanding what’s going on in the organization. When there is a breakdown in communication from manager to employee, it can rapidly produce feelings of uncertainty, skepticism, and confusion for employees. It is critical that managers build trust, communicate frequently, draw connections between change and employees’ specific work, and what outstanding questions are weighing on people’s minds.
What Managers Can Do

Spend time explaining the reason behind why decisions are made. Help employees understand how the changes support the broader goals of the organization.

Help employees understand that changes are happening not because the way things were done before was inferior, but because the business is evolving and changes are necessary to keep up with the new environment.

Fostering a collaborative climate with open communication is especially important when going through change. Set aside extra time to answer questions or concerns.

If you don’t know the answer or a decision has not been made, say so. Communicate when you expect to know more and then be sure to follow-up.

What Employees Can Do

Keep an open mind and actively think through change in terms of the positive and negative: 1) how might this change improve your work or benefit you, and 2) what challenges may the change cause for you? Outlining both views can help you deal with the change, plan for potential challenges, and keep a positive mindset as you integrate changes in your work.

When you feel uncertain about change, ask for some time with your manager to talk through it. Get a feel for the short and long-term effects of the change. Brainstorm what you need to effectively deal with the change and what your team may need from you.

When talking with your manager or peers, check that your understanding of roles and responsibilities is the same as theirs. For example, sometimes big-picture expectations are verbalized by your supervisor, but he/she can forget to discuss the smaller details that impact your work.

What Leadership Can Do

Be proactive in communicating changes from multiple channels (e.g., blogs, newsletters, team meetings, town halls). Within your message, communicate “what’s in it for employees” and other key stakeholders (customers, etc.).

Ensure that important messages are delivered consistently to all members of the organization (rather than a select few). Check-in with your direct reports and their employees to make sure they heard the message and heard it accurately.

Help employees understand that changes are happening not because the way things were done before was inferior, but because the business is evolving and changes are necessary to keep up with the new environment.

Resources

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