3 ways to empower middle managers to communicate change

Give them highlights, templates and key points—not a generic script. Instead of dictating impersonal data, try to facilitate meaningful, personalized dialogue.

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Employees trust them (hopefully), they’re excellent role models for change adoption, and they’re already talking with employees regularly. When change is afoot, hearing the details from a respected manager is infinitely better than receiving an impersonal executive video or email from HR.

When a change initiative arises, communicators often equip middle managers with a toolkit consisting of email scripts, slides, FAQs or flyers—anything a manager might need to spread the word. Manager toolkits are great; they remove the guesswork from change communication. It’s hard to get a message wrong when you’re looking directly at it.

However, toolkits can backfire. Managers—many of whom are not natural communicators and most of whom are busy and overworked—often just pass the materials along to their teams. If managers simply forward the email templates or read the talking points verbatim, there is plenty of room for misinterpretation.

This is where middle managers can shine. Leaders know what makes their teams tick, and they can apply context to messages.

Anyone can read a memo sent from corporate headquarters, but a savvy middle manager can interpret a message for his or her team, apply it to the daily work at hand, then hold the team accountable for implementing the changes.

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