Change can be stressful and unsettling for employees, so it’s important to effectively communicate the rationale for the change and how it will affect them. A common way people can get disengaged, frustrated and unproductive in the workplace is to not understand how their work connects to the bigger goals of the organization. Similarly, a thoughtful communication strategy can help to avoid issues like delayed project milestones, incorrect rumor swirl, or employee confusion.
1. Review your communication plan with a project or leadership team
Make sure you’re not working in a silo. Project team members can give excellent feedback and inputs about which tactics are effective, and the needs of their teams.
2. Align communication with critical project milestones
Ensure communications are happening before project milestones! This is particularly important if the change is visible (remember, the absence of information usually leads to assumptions being made!) or if action if required. As an example, it can often be useful to communicate with managers or certain stakeholders a few weeks before the general employee population. Communicating with these groups earlier allows them to adjust to the change and ready themselves to discuss and prepare their teams.
3. Create two-way communication opportunities
Consider how to enable two-way communication between your customer and the project team. How do employees go about asking questions or raising concerns? Could you set up a Q&A forum, in-person or virtually? How can communications like emails be supplemented with chats, in-person meetings, or visuals?
4. Ensure you’re communicating enough
A rule of marketing states that a customer needs to hear about something SEVEN times before taking action. Are you taking advantage of all the available communication channels to ensure your employees have the information they need? Consider the timing of communications too to allow employees to have enough time to digest and react to a change announcement before anything is expected of them.
5. Switch up your communication tactics
Use a variety of channels to ensure that everyone has access to the necessary information, and be transparent and open in your communication. Different learning styles, different personalities, and different generations all have preferences in communication styles.