Best Practices for Communicating Change


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Implementing change can be difficult, however, not realizing the importance of communication before, during and after the change process can make the process even more challenging. Poor communications can even cause an unnecessary failure of the change process. This presentation is designed to help guide you in the process of communicating change effectively.

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Best Practices for Communicating Change

  1. 1. Best Practices for Communicating Change November 2013
  2. 2. Objectives At the end of this presentation you will: Understand the importance of communication during a change  Learn best practices for communicating change  Be able to use the CLEAR method for communicating change  Learn how to use communication to reduce resistance  Understand how to use communication to improve the operational aspect of change management  2
  3. 3. Value of communication during change management Good communication practices will help an organization to:  Clarify responsibilities during and after the change Helps ensure business runs smoothly  Allows for accountability in getting results  Demonstrates that proper planning has been done to help manage the change   Reduce resistance to change Minimizes uncertainty, a primary driver of resistance  Eliminates the rumor mill and other negative forces that often occur during a change process  3
  4. 4. Value of communication during change management (cont’d) Good communication practices will help an organization to:  Provide a mechanism for feedback and course correction Allows information to flow up, keeping management informed of progress  Provides a realistic picture of results on the ground  Helps management make necessary corrections and communicate them to staff   Highlight successes to help keep people motivated and energized Creates positive emotions regarding the change  Creates energy when change becomes difficult or stagnant  4
  5. 5. Questions to ask when preparing to communicate change Before beginning your communication plan, you should ask yourself:  How can you articulate the business case for the change you are proposing? Presenting a business case demonstrates that thought has gone into the change process  Thinking through the business case will assist you in formulating the operational plan   How can you clearly articulate the benefits of the change and/or the consequences of not changing? Understanding the need for change reduces resistance during the change process  Demonstrates that your change is necessary and not simply the latest business fad  5
  6. 6. Questions to ask when preparing to communicate change (cont’d)  Who has been included in the change planning process?  Is there anyone who should have been involved but hasn’t been up to this point?    Including the right people will help you develop effective communication How will the change be implemented from an operational perspective?   If the answer is yes, you may want to stop and reevaluate your change management plan Understanding the mechanics of the change will ensure that the right people get the right information at the right time Have you arranged for all of the necessary human and financial resources?  Communications that explain how to get support will help eliminate confusion and frustration 6
  7. 7. Questions to ask when preparing to communicate change (cont’d)  What metrics will you use to measure success? Having and communicating metrics can demonstrate success which creates energy and reduces resistance  Tracking and communicating metrics can also provide an early warning if the change is not going well   Who will serve as your voice of change? Choose the right messenger who lends credibility to the change process  The message should come from people who have the right level of authority and are respected by those impacted  The answers to these questions will help you create meaningful communication plans or alert you if there is work to be done. 7
  8. 8. Using the CLEAR method This format will help you develop a successful communication plan:  Communicate effectively  Listen and respond to feedback  Evaluate and communicate progress  Adjust your plan  Remind and Reward 8
  9. 9. Communicating Effectively Communicating effectively means that you must: Identify who will be impacted by the change and whose assistance and/or cooperation is necessary  Explain the need for change  Describe exactly what is changing and how it will affect those impacted  Demonstrate that you a have plan for change  Asking yourself the questions from earlier in the presentation will assist you in this process. 9
  10. 10. Communicating Effectively: Identify your audience As you begin to craft your message, you should consider: Who needs this information?  What, if anything, have they heard about the change so far?  How are they likely to react to the change?  Should everyone receive the same message or should it vary by department, location, position etc. ?  Who is the best person to deliver the message?  What is the best method to reach that audience - email, in-person individually, inperson in groups etc. ?  Now that you have considered your audience , you are ready to work on explaining the need for change 10
  11. 11. Communicating Effectively: Explaining the need for change When you articulate the benefits of the change you should:  Present the factual data that led to your conclusions   Reference all people or groups that participated in the decision making process   Build credibility by demonstrating that all stakeholders were consulted Show how the organization/or employees will benefit from the change   Use visual as well as written materials Demonstrating a need for change reduces resistance and builds enthusiasm Explain the negative consequences of not changing  Sometimes this is necessary especially in organizations or groups that have become stagnant 11
  12. 12. Communicating Effectively: Describing the nature of the change When describing the actual change itself, you should:  Address the impact of the change with regard to: The organization as whole  Departments, locations or other groups  Individuals   Be positive but do not spin or sugar coat unpleasant aspects of the change 12
  13. 13. Communicating effectively: Demonstrate your plan Having a detailed change management plan will: Show that you have put thought into the change you are trying to implement  Assure people that the necessary training, financial support and other resources will be available  Your communication should include: Clearly articulated roles and responsibilities  Key dates and milestones for deliverables  Any new policies and procedures  A training plan (if necessary)  Information on how success will be measured  If you cannot demonstrate that you have a plan STOP you are in danger 13
  14. 14. Listening to and responding to feedback When you receive feedback it is important to incorporate ways to capture feedback in your communication plan; some methods include:  Open door policies  Email  Online via a portal or blog  Focus groups and surveys 14
  15. 15. Listening and responding to feedback (cont’d) Your response to feedback is critical to how people will perceive the change; you should:  Thank the person for their feedback  Assume that the question or concern comes from a place of good faith  Repeat back or paraphrase their question or concern to ensure that it is understood  Answer honestly and completely to the best of your ability  Do not make guesses or assumptions if you are unsure 15
  16. 16. Listening and responding to feedback (cont’d) Your response to feedback is critical to how people will perceive the change; you should:  Promise to respond at a later date if the information requested is not available, then follow through  React positively and do not try to silence legitimate questions and concerns  Share and respond to ALL feedback Listening to and responding to feedback appropriately can dramatically reduce resistance to change and increase your chances of success 16
  17. 17. Evaluate and communicate progress In order to evaluate and communicate progress effectively, you must:  Communicate metrics that will measure the impact of your change  Develop a system for communicating the metrics you have chosen  Communicate the reason for the disparity in results if they are below what was anticipated  Be open to altering your change management plan if you are falling short of the desired results  Reassess your communications tactics based on the progress your change Evaluating and communicating progress will help demonstrate that the change is having the desired impact and keep employees energized during the change process 17
  18. 18. Adjust your plan and re-communicate Review of the evaluation data may indicate that a change of plans is necessary; if so: Determine how the change in operational planning impacts your communication plan  Make the necessary changes to your communication to get back on course  Include a method to communicate the change to everyone involved  Watch results closely to ensure that the course adjustments are having the desired impact  Adjusting plans when necessary builds credibility and bolsters morale when change gets difficult 18
  19. 19. Remind and reward Change management can be a long process during implementation; you should: Communicate on a regular basis to remind staff why the change is necessary  Send reminders regarding how new polices or procedures work    Focus attention on people or groups if they are not cooperating Report on successes both big and small 19
  20. 20. Remind and reward (cont’d) Remember to reward staff for a job well done; be certain to: Point out examples of good work and cooperativeness  Thank people for their contributions both large and small  Publically reward behaviors and performance that aligns with desired results  Reminding and rewarding appropriately will keep morale and energy levels high during the change process 20
  21. 21. For more information, contact Barbara Brown, Project Manager Dougherty and Associates 703-838-0093 x 258 John Viarella, Human Resource Manager Dougherty and Associates 703-838-0093 x 211 21