Written by: Jennifer Card, M.Sc.
The pace of change in organizational responsiveness and growth has increased incrementally with new technologies and globalization. Change is part of growth and transformation, but inevitably what comes with change is a feeling of uncertainty.
It is critical during times of organizational change to consider the impact on the people (stakeholders) involved. Even when the change is perceived as a completely positive initiative, it’s still change! Change can bubble-up feelings of uncertainty in everyone involved. Communication is critical to ease the transition, maintain the trust, and stabilize the message. The key to effective communication during change is that it is two-way, with feedback loops, and timing..it needs to start as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that if there is a void, or gap in communication, it leaves a space for assumptions to rush in.
If change is managed effectively it can be transformational, and a time to revitalize an organization… as long as everyone is on-board. Caswey, Desza & Inglos (2016) offer that creating a strategy map is key, and within that strategy map consider the belief systems and values of the stakeholders.
Also, be sure to anticipate, thoroughly, perceptions and interpretations of the change. In essence, talk with the people involved, and ask them what they think and feel.
The following are a few strategies to ensure consistent, and clear communication during the change process:
- Never make assumptions that everyone is “on board” without asking them
- Never let the message / communication get ahead of you during change
- Make sure the message is clear, succinct, and digestible
- Never underestimate the anxiety that bubbles up during change, even if the change is positive
- Check in frequently with stakeholders
- Put feedback systems in place so that communication stays two-way
- Think it through. All the way through.
Reference: Cawsey, T., Desza, G., & Inglos, C. (2016). Organizational Change: An action oriented toolkit. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.