Change management is essential for an organization planning big changes, and communication is a vital part of change management. Successful change management communications requires a solid communications plan that makes communications clear to participants on every level of the business from the ground up. Generally, an effective change management communications plan includes communications meetings, message plans, and a system of communicating with concerned participants in a change. A change management communications plan should be carefully tailored to a company to ensure that the needs of all employees are met during the change.
When planning a big change, the psychological impact of the change on existing company personnel can greatly influence the success or failure of a change. One of the most effective ways of ensuring a positive employee response to the change is good change management communications. Addressing the employees' concerns with the change should start before the employees are even aware of the change. Planning change management communications is an integral part of the process of a smooth transition, so techniques and procedures used for change management communications should ideally be a part of the change planning process.
Leaving employees in the dark on the details of change can cause rumors to circulate as those affected by the change begin to speculate about what change is happening. As soon as the organization is aware that a change will be made, all affected parties should be notified of the change, even if details are in their early stages. Do not underestimate the scope of those who may be affected by the change. Though one group may be directly affected by the change, there may be a host of peripherally connected parties who will be affected by the change to a lesser degree.
Look at it from the employees' points of view. Understanding the positions of people affected by the change can help company management better address concerns about the change. Include all information that could be relevant to those affected by the change, and do not leave employees in the dark about details unless it is absolutely necessary. Communicate with employees formally at least once a week, holding meetings and conferences dedicated to discussing the change.
Hear employees out. Keep the door to the company conference room open to any employees who have issues with the change, and listen to their concerns. When one employee addresses a concern, it can indicate a widespread opinion among employees, so conferences with employees who are unhappy with the change can give managers valuable insight into flaws in their change management plans.
Meet with change detractors early to understand their concerns. When an employee has a complaint and wishes to be heard, an open ear to the employee's concerns can help prevent the employee from complaining to other employees about the change. Often, problems with the change may stem from misunderstandings or miscommunications that can easily be avoided by using open communication to promote healthy discussion of the change.