May 06,2020 Change Management

Change Communications

Change Communications

The Message

Change communications represent the greatest tactical error or net positive a team can make. The formal communication to the organization sets the change in motion, it represents the tipping point where the ship cannot be turned around. Change is never accomplished in a box and should never be a surprise to those impacted. Some change leaders hide the change or shy away from verbalizing it too loudly. The fallacy is that change at its heart is moving stakeholders and that begins with the announcement.

Prior to any announcement is conducting a stakeholder impact and risk analysis. By knowing the recipients of the message, members of the core change team should be able to determine how their message will be received and the impacts it will have. You will increase your change probability of success by listing out all the stakeholders and speculating on their potential reactions and what impacts that would make.

Once the impact analysis is completed the message or messages can then be crafted. By having a general idea at what the reactions will be, the change team can craft tailormade messages for numerous groups or they focus their efforts on writing a persuasive message that will address all concerns. The final step is then determining the right medium and frequency to announce the change.

Communicating to Engage

Talking to your employees about upcoming change isn’t a nicety but a necessity. From a very basic principle’s standpoint, the organization must have an alignment for the change to be effective. When a major change takes place that isn’t announced to the workforce, chaos ensues. These scenarios happen every day. This comes from a position that management is attempting to deliberately hide facts from their employees. They are purposely deceiving them. That is a great indicator that the change is not well thought out and that you are trying to rush it.

The secret behind a great change communication plan is that it can build a partnership with employees. For the change to effectively implemented, you will need their active support. Your goal is for the employees to engage in the change process instead of ignoring it.

This starts with not wanting the workforce to be reactive of the change and then to understand how it impacts them and how they individually will respond. You actively want them to help supplement your thinking. By bringing their insight into the change, you give them ownership of the change. Your logic will also be a challenge. But through debate, your argument can become strengthened and be more persuasive to the organization.

The hidden gem to applying a robust and engaging dialogue to the change process is that it helps to eliminate and mitigate surprises. Consequently, change efforts that consist of only one-way messages leave any rocks unturned. Change events with open dialogue bring the intelligence from the depths of the organization who will have insights that executive management can never have on their own.

Players Roles & Responsibilities

Change Champion

  • Assists in the impact analysis
  • Communicates the change announcement

Change Manager

  • Leads the impact analysis
  • Documents the communication

Communications Manager

  • Determine communication timing and content
  • Construct messages

 Change Analyst

  • Supplies data to help construct the communication
  • Test messages on samples

Choice Architect

  • Incorporates into the messaging the choices the employees will be empowered to make

Core Change Team

  • Assists in the impact analysis

Case Study:

The core change team upon deciding the nudge decision points were ready to make the change announcement. The Vice Presidents of Human Resources, Mia Dean, Sales Scott Moore, and I.T., Ahli Beckett were brought in to help with the impact analysis. Drew continued his facilitator role of outlining all the stakeholders that would be affected. Leading the stakeholder impact analysis, Drew wanted to vet out who would jump in on the change, who would hold out, and who would be detrimental to the overall effort.

The team also wanted to figure out the best way to structure the message. There were fears that if the announcement were left up to individual teams, that the message would leak, and that panic would flood the organization. The owner, Howard, made the decision that he wanted to have a town hall meeting with all the employees. He wanted to explain the logic and reassure that everyone’s jobs would be safe. Drew then recommended that they create a relaxed atmosphere, possibly serve lunch and drinks. The key point that they wanted questions asked and dialogue to begin. Howard wanted them not to worry but wanted his employees to start imagining how the company will work in the future. He held a long belief that the goal of leadership was to posit a problem to the workforce that you want their help in solving.

The Announcement

With the communication plan framed, Howard and Ron called together an all-employee meeting. The employees knew that a major announcement was coming but they also felt at ease going into a warm environment. Therefore, Howard insisted he make the announcement feeling that he had a responsibility to each one of his employees. Following Howard’s speech, his workforce displayed shocked and stunned silence. Howard went on to clarify and reemphasize the process and that everyone was keeping their jobs. This started an uneasy social hour afterward to ask questions which brought more clarity. While Howard and Ron didn’t have to have all of the answers, the workforce appreciated their transparency.


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