Communicating change

Change can be confronting, intimidating, exciting or rewarding for staff. The way you manage the process will heavily determine the impact of change on your staff. You can help create a positive environment for change by ensuring your team understands the reasons for change. Communicating the reasons and benefits, describing the process and providing regular updates on the change process will help you cultivate a team that thrives on change.

Develop a simple communication plan to support your change process that focuses on communicating the reasons for change and involving your staff in planning decisions. Consider these communication priorities in developing your business's change communication plan.

Explain the process

Develop a set of key messages and a few communication tools that will help your staff understand the process and the benefits. Your tools might include change planning sessions, morning tea information sessions, a regular e-newsletter on the change process, and a wall chart that explains stages and milestones of the change process.

Use a formal consultation process

Involve your staff in your planning and decision-making processes. Schedule a series of briefings and staff conversations designed to capture staff input on specific aspects of the change process and update staff on progress.

Establish your 'non-negotiables'

When discussing and deciding changes with your staff, use your business plan for change to determine what is negotiable and what is not. Be sure to clearly explain your reasons for the changes you consider essential.

Involve your supervisors and managers in communication

Your leadership team can play an important role in keeping your staff informed and identifying and addressing staff concerns. Enlist the support of respected supervisors to communicate the change process and talk through issues with affected staff.

Be open and honest

Avoid secrets or surprises wherever possible. In change processes your team members may want certainty more than they want a say. If you can't take up their ideas on a certain issue, let them know, and give them as much clear and accurate information as you can at all times.

Plan to celebrate

Celebrate successes and completed milestones in the change process. Organise morning tea or lunch events to thank your team for their input and review achievements to date and next steps.

Talk to affected staff regularly

Engage as many employees as possible in changes that affect them. Once you have identified where the impacts of changes on your staff will be, schedule discussions with them and follow them up to see how they are dealing with the changes once they occur.

Explain change decisions and outcomes

Towards the end of your process, take steps to explain why you weren't able to act on certain suggestions made by your team members. Be realistic in setting their expectations about where they can provide input, and be open in describing the factors that influenced your final decisions on aspects of the change.

Be a clear, consistent and confident leader

Your staff will take strength in your confidence in the face of change. Make sure your rationale for change and key messages about the changes stay consistent throughout the process. Stay true to your motives and goals for change and communicate them with confidence at all times.

Your strong leadership and steps to maintain staff motivation will help your team work together positively.

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