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Communication is, without question, a critical element in successful change management. To realize positive outcomes during and after a major change, it is imperative for managers to be proactive, thoughtful and strategic in their approach to sharing information with their employees.
In fact, a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey of senior managers in Canada found a solid majority (60 per cent) of business leaders believe clear and frequent communication is the most important success factor for guiding their team through change.
So what communication tactics can managers employ to help their employees understand and adapt to change? Here are six effective strategies to ensure a smooth transition:
Priority number one: Involve employees as soon as goals are set. Even if you don’t have all the particulars, share as much information as you can with regards to how they will be impacted, and ask for your team’s input on how best to implement the change.
Be selective when sharing information
While you don’t want to keep your staff in the dark, you don’t want to overwhelm them with details either. Before communicating with your employees about a major change, ask yourself: Will this information be meaningful to my team? How much is too much detail?
Be honest about the impact of the change. Sugar-coating issues or setting unrealistic goals or timelines will likely work against successfully instating new processes or program. Leaders run the risk of diminishing employees’ faith in the importance of the transition and may erode their confidence in the company’s leadership.
Accentuate the positives
Most change is ultimately intended to lead to good things for your staff, so make sure they know that up front. This will help them feel more invested in, and accepting of, the transition. For example, if your company is implementing a new automated business system, explain how it will enhance team efficiency and productivity by reducing time spent on manual tasks.
Successful change hinges on teamwork. Be quick to celebrate successes throughout the process, and reward employees who go above and beyond in helping to ensure a seamless transition.
Keep on communicating
Change management doesn't end at implementation. In fact most senior managers surveyed said the post-implementation stage is where their companies most often drop the ball. Once a major change is in place — whether it’s the completion of a merger or the adoption of a new business model — more than likely you’ll need to begin a whole new chapter of communication with your employees. You may also need to offer training or bring in extra support, such as project professionals, to ensure staff adapt smoothly while maintaining peak performance.
Still have change management questions? Consider bringing on a Robert Half Management Resources change management consultant to guide you through the process.