Change in the workplace will go better if managers use these strategies to get employees on board and motivate them to help make it succeed.
There’s not a company on Earth that can successfully avoid organizational change. Implementing new technology, mergers, switching up processes, and getting used to new leadership are changes we’ll all probably deal with in our careers.
Sometimes change in the workplace is driven by an external source. For example, the pandemic in 2020 set off all kinds of organizational changes for many businesses —one of the biggest one being the remote work movement.
The challenge with change is that most of the time you’ll experience employee resistance. They like their comfort zones, worry about learning the new skills that may be required, stress about losing their jobs, or just don’t see the point of upsetting the status quo.
Managing change effectively takes planning and communication. Leaders need to create team member buy-in, implement the change, and protect the company’s culture. Sounds easy right? Seriously, navigating change management is one of the toughest business strategies leaders must handle.
With this guide, you can learn how to best communicate change to your workforce.
7 ways to communicate change in the workplace
The secret weapon for managing organizational change? Effective communication.
Here are 7 key components leaders can use to communicate change in the workplace to give it the best chance at success.
Offer all the information and as many details as you can share. This includes timelines, requirements, why the change is happening, and how it will affect each person’s position.
When team members first hear about an organizational change, they’re probably going to feel dread and worry. They may also not trust the information and say things like, “well they say my job won’t be affected, but we’ll see.”
Combat mistrust and worry by tackling the change management process transparently. Offer all the information and as many details as you can share. This includes timelines, requirements, why the change is happening, and how it will affect each person’s position. Transparently communicating workplace change is the first step to help team members accept it.
Stilted, formal language won’t resonate in this situation. Remember, you’re talking to your coworkers. Avoid using a buttoned up “company line” and, instead, explain the change honestly. This includes any information team members may view negatively. Share the whole picture so they don’t have to worry about what they don’t know. Leaders can maintain a positive attitude while being genuine and acknowledging team members’ worries.
Give opportunities to be heard
One of the biggest ways to get team members to embrace change is to create a two-way communication path. Give them a chance to share their thoughts and air their worries. Even if the change is inevitable, having a way to share their perspective will help them feel they play a part in its success (which they do).
Lack of buy-in is a major reason many change initiatives fail. According to Gartner, half of change initiatives fail, and only 34% are a clear success. Your communication needs to include how the change positively affects each team member. Does it save them time? Make them more efficient? Allow them more opportunities for advancement? Is it necessary to help the company to thrive, or even survive?
Use change incentives to spur team members to give change a chance. Even if there are negative aspects of change, find a way to help team members see the possible positive outcomes.
half of change initiatives fail, and only 34% are a clear success. Your communication needs to include how the change positively affects each team member.
Nobody enjoys worrying about the unknown. Employ your change management skills to create a detailed roadmap of the coming change. Clearly outline every stage of the change process, including timelines and each team member’s responsibility for helping achieve the change. Lay out each phase of the change, including to-do lists, meetings, and implementation requirements. Use reminders as the change progresses to keep everyone in the loop.
If team members can see the process and understand their roles in it, you can alleviate stress and apprehension.
Develop your communications strategy
Some team members may enthusiastically jump aboard the change train, while others may stubbornly deny it’s happening. This is normal for any major organizational change. Specific segments of employees might need extra attention to get them to buy in. To affectively manage change, you need a communication strategy. Proactively plan on addressing these holdouts.
Create special messaging for these team members. Use question-and-answer sessions or emails to help satisfy their questions, and give frequent updates to keep the change at the top of their minds. Meeting with them one-on-one can help, too.
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Engage every team member
While some employees will be more integral than others to the upcoming organizational change, every team member should engage in what’s coming. Avoid leaving segments of team members out. This will make them feel like they don’t matter and their opinions and contributions aren’t valued.
Creating a powerful communication strategy
Managing change across an entire organization will be challenging, because change is scary for many people. Consider potential challenges and how to get around them early in the process. By creating a powerful communication strategy, being honest and authentic about the change, and giving every team member a voice, you pave the way toward minimizing mistrust and maximizing buy-in.