Strategic, effective communication is crucial to the success of every organization, especially during times of change. These best practice tips in change management will help improve your skills.
Employees often resist change because they don’t understand how the changes will personally affect them. If you’re a manager, you may have run across one of these types of employees while trying to implement new policies and procedures.
These folks know that people and processes at work could be a lot better, but they’re reluctant to embrace change for fear of worse things happening. Sometimes the miserable familiar feels safer than the potentially better unknown. This group resists change fiercely, especially if they fear they might be eliminated.
Some employees might be willing to embrace change, especially if they see the personal benefits. But if they aren’t included in the management communication process, they get a classic case of FOMO. (In hashtag language, that stands for Fear Of Missing Out). This group might become very chatty and engage in rumors and gossip as they try to figure out what’s really going on behind the scenes.
Then there might even be those employees who decide it’s time for a complete job change. Rather than dealing with any more new changes that might be coming their way, they feel it’s just easier to leave. Why would they go to such extremes? Could it be distrust? Believing the management does not have your best interests at heart does not breed loyalty.
Decreasing productivity and job satisfaction
All of these groups clearly suffer from many negative behaviors when faced with change, such as fear, anxiety, distraction, and resistance. And these negative behaviors result in lower productivity and decreased job satisfaction, which means loss of profits overall.
These seem like big problems, and they are, but there is actually an easy answer: clear, consistent, effective internal communication about policy and personnel changes.
Practicing three principles for effective communication
As any manager knows, communicating better is easy to say but harder to implement. Whether your communication methods involve paper memos or the latest technology, keep three things in mind.
- Communicate early. No matter how good of a “secret” you think the impending resignation of the CEO is, chances are your employees are already chatting about it. Be proactive about communicating big changes early on so employees don't spread rumors and gossip.
- Communicate clearly. Avoid ambiguity and jargon. Don’t patronize your staff. They’ll see through your tactics and feel like you’re trying to cover something up. And feeling like their manager is covering something up won’t build trust.
- Communicate often. To paraphrase a famous quote, the biggest misconception about communication is the belief that it happened. Don’t assume that everyone got that email you sent them after 5:00 p.m. Use as many channels as possible, as often as possible, to make sure everyone is on the same page.