How to Communicate Organizational Change to Employees
Some organizations can struggle implementing change. Whether it be a merger, acquisition, or simply introducing new company policies, communicating change is key to help ensure a smooth transition for employees. Miscommunication can be the root of many process change failures. Executives need to make sure they are communicating the right message, but also communicating the message frequently across the organization so that all employees understand. However, research by Towers Watson shows that only 68% of senior managers are getting the message about the reasons behind major organizational decisions.
In this article, we outline some tips on how leaders can successful communicate and implement organizational change.
1) Get buy-in
Successful change management initiatives require buy-in from senior management. Buy-in begins by communicating what the change is and why it is happening. Senior management must be able to clearly communicate the message. If senior management is unable to understand the reason for major organizational changes, this will affect the bottom line. One study found that only 53% of middle managers really get the message, and only 40% of front-line supervisors understand the change. If managers do not understand the change, they will not be able to communicate and lead the rest of their team. To that end, organizations can consider hosting town halls to clarify the changes that will be happening. Alternatively, meetings can be set up with management to ensure that the change message is clear. In general, it is important that the message is as direct as possible, and that there is time for feedback and questions. Organizations should also consider communicating the “what” and “why” of the change initiative often to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
2) Clearly outline the plans and changes
When it comes to implementing change, senior management needs to be as honest and clear as possible. If the change will directly affect employees' day-to-day, senior management will be critical in creating a clear outline of the changes that are going to take place and how they relate to expectations, goals, tasks, etc.
We also want to stress that the importance of the “why”. Explaining to employees why change is happening in the organization can ensure there will be a smoother transition, and get everyone 'rowing in the same direction'. Managers should also be prepared to take some time to clarify any points if employees are unsure how it will affect their work.
3) Create 2-way communication channels
Employees are going to have a lot of questions regarding the change. How will this affect my current objectives? What will the new structure look like? When are these changes rolling out?
Managers need to be able to answer these questions thoroughly if change is to be adopted successfully. One of the best ways that managers can help with successful adoption is by implementing 2-way communication channels. Whether you are in the office or working remotely, communication channels need to be established. Whether it be through your 1-on-1 feedback meetings, internal communication channels (Slack, Teams, email), or by hosting company or team town hall meetings, managers need to be make themselves available to employees’ questions. Establishing concrete change communication channels will also allow managers to update employees on any upcoming news regarding any additional changes.
4) Define the new goals
Defining the new goals to employees can be a crucial step to get employees on board. In fact, according to McKinsey, 70% of change initiatives fail to meet their goals, and a big part of this is due to employee resistance. Managers need to explicitly define the new goals and expectations for the company and employees going forward. Specify what team members will be working towards what goals and come up with tactical steps for them to take.
Change is inevitable in organizations. If communicated properly and with the right processes in place, the organizational change can be implemented smoothly. Be as open and honest as possible to all employees in the organization. Ensure to listen to all feedback and concerns regarding the changes to ensure productive employee adoption.
How is your company communicating change? - Let us know!