Communicating corporate change? 5 steps make it easy

Change can be tough, and adjustments in the workplace are no exception. Relieve the tension by employing these tips for effective communication.

“The less people know, the more they yell.”

This funny—but true—quote by bestselling author Seth Godin highlights why effective communication in a company is key.

Your company’s change initiative may aim to introduce a new IT system, reduce costs through reorganization, or evolve your brand positioning. If you want to successfully manage such an important change, consider how you communicate.

Be prepared for resistance

When you roll out a major change initiative, you’re likely to encounter some resistance; that’s not because people are trying to make your job harder. Think about change from the internal team’s perspective. They may voice common concerns, such as:

  • We’re too busy to change things right now.
  • Our way of doing things works fine; we don’t need to change.
  • We don’t know what to expect, so it’s less risky to keep things the way they are.
  • We don’t understand what we’re being asked to do—what does change look like?

5 practical steps to support successful corporate change

The following best practices for change communications can help ensure a successful change initiative.

1. Create an “elevator pitch” for the change

To promote any great idea you need a concise, yet compelling story that motivates people to help make it happen. With the help of key stakeholders, create a short, easy-to-remember statement about your change initiative. In two to three lines, highlight benefits of the change from the perspective of the audience, and include a call to action. Make sure the pitch is delivered consistently across a variety of communication channels, including in person.

2. Identify an executive champion

Employee surveys consistently show that “knowing my management values” is central to building buy-in for a corporate change. While staff meetings, town hall sessions and written testimonials help, video can be even more compelling. To get the word out, share those videos on company intranet portals.

3. Recruit influencers

In most companies, every line of business has its own way of doing things, so take a grassroots approach to help you advance a major corporate change. Identify the opinion makers and develop a written outreach plan to connect with the 10 people who will have the greatest impact on whether the change will be successfully adopted.

4. Make it easy for everyone to learn about the change

The easiest way to get people on board with change is to ensure they understand why change is happening, how they can benefit, and what they need to do. Make this information readily accessible across numerous channels: internal websites, email broadcasts, regular staff meetings, newsletters and even promotional posters around the office. If appropriate, anchor the outreach effort with a training program.

5. Emphasize the big picture impact

In times of change, employees tend to focus only on how the initiative affects their daily work. When people understand the big picture and how their efforts can impact the value of the company, they can be powerfully motivated. To help reinforce this idea, make sure all your communications reflect your brand standards (logo, colors, brand voice) to help create a sense of company unity.

Through effective communications that engage and motivate employees to help drive successful change, you can increase the power of your most valuable resource—your people—to strengthen your company.

Gavin James is a consultant focusing on communication design and customer experience strategy. She is also Creative Director and contributing blogger for Beyond the Arc, Inc., where this article originally ran.

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