If you study a change management model (it doesn’t matter which one, take your pick), there will be a point in the process where communication starts. Stakeholders need to be informed, inspired, calmed and engaged to move an organization successfully through a change. It’s crucial to be strategic about how and when that communication begins.
Most agree that engaging stakeholders in a time of change must be done. It gets trickier when you start to examine how best to engage different audiences inside the organization. The people leaders, or managers, in your organization are key to helping address these challenges. In fact, leaders at all levels — teams, departments or divisions — are a part of the change process.
The larger the organization, the more you must include all your leaders in your change communications process. Even the best-laid employee communication plan will get a significant boost in its reach and effectiveness when it is reinforced by the leaders who interact with people on a regular basis.
Once you’ve successfully equipped people leaders with talking points, keywords and background information, the next challenge is getting those leaders to carry the message and support the feedback loop you want to have in place. If they don’t, it can feel like passing a baton to the next runner in a relay race, only to see that runner hold the baton and never take off.
So, what can be done?
Early on, each leader needs to have a good understanding of the role their team plays in the change process, how their team will be impacted, and what the desired outcome means for their team.
“Go directly for the minds and hearts of your current employees. Understand their aspirations and their fears,” the founder of Tampa, Fla.-based digital marketing firm Sparxoo wrote in Wharton Magazine.
Connecting to hearts and minds often requires expanding beyond overarching organization-wide messaging. This is where people leaders can really make their mark on internal communications. They bring insight to make the changes real and relatable for their teams, can speak to their colleagues in clear and direct terms, motivate them to participate in the change process, and bring valuable feedback to senior leadership.
Leaders at all levels should play an active role. They help move your organization through a period of change by making sure that communications flow through the organization.
But they’ll need your help to succeed. Be sure to think through how best to support this group of colleagues.
DeNesha Tellis is an affiliate consultant with Ragan Consulting Group, specializing in executive and leadership communications. RCG also offers communications training, consulting and strategic counsel. Schedule a call with Kristin Hart to learn how we can help you improve your communications. Follow RCG on LinkedIn here and subscribe to its weekly newsletter here.