Every organization will go through periods of change, whether it is restructuring, or a transition in leadership or business strategy. Many leaders understand the importance of communicating these changes clearly and thoughtfully, but they struggle with implementation. I suggest retaining professional communication counsel, but if you want to go it alone, these tips will help:
1. Include everyone in your communications. During an organizational change, it may seem appropriate to focus all of your communication efforts on the individuals directly affected. Those who are losing their jobs, reporting to a new leader or being asked to take on additional responsibilities need to be told about the change and how it affects them. But don’t exclude other employees. They are closely watching the action. Your communication to them is just as important.
Productivity levels and employees’ morale are more at risk during layoffs or leadership shake ups than at any other time. The more closed-door meetings you have, the more likely it is that water-cooler conversations will spread a toxic vibe over your workplace.
2. Look at things from your employees’ perspectives. Employees are watching you very closely because how you treat their impacted colleagues (who may be their friends) is how they believe you’ll treat them under similar circumstances.
Beware of tunnel vision. Craft messages carefully to make sure they meet the needs of each employee in your organization. You may need to customize a message for each audience group.
3. Reinforce your message. Change communication is more than a single well-written memo. You’ll want to repeat key concepts as well as utilize multiple channels to announce a change. During face-to-face meetings, be cognizant of your body language. Keep your posture relaxed and your facial expressions neutral to reduce the risk of generating unnecessary concerns.
4. Emphasize your company vision. Employees do their best work when they can see how their individual efforts contribute to the company vision. Any uncertainty can dampen productivity. Lunch breaks get a little longer and gossip increases when employees can’t anchor their efforts to a solid vision. This is why leaders need to explain why business decisions are good for the company, and ultimately benefit everyone involved.
Many leaders surround themselves with lawyers, business analysts and HR specialists during times of change. While you need their expertise, they are not communication strategists. Engage a qualified communication professional early, before a misstep has you scrambling to retain employees or boost morale. Get started with TruPerception by scheduling a free 30-minute consultation.