As an entrepreneur or leader, you know that to move your business forward, you often have to implement change.
The world is changing rapidly. Markets, technology and the workforce have all undergone major changes in the past 5 years. Businesses must be proactive and adaptable to stay competitive and survive. That is why change is necessary. However, change can come in many forms. It can come from technological advances, changes in consumer behavior, new regulations or economic recession.
Regardless of the form, companies that fail to adapt and embrace change are likely to be left behind. However, managing change can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to communicating it to employees.
Change often brings new ideas and opportunities for growth, allowing companies to evolve and better serve their customers. For this reason, it is crucial to communicate changes effectively to employees to minimize confusion, resistance and stress. In this article, we’ll discuss some essential tips for communicating change to employees.
Choose the best communication channels
How employees respond to change is often influenced by how they received news of the change. For example, while there is no federal law that prohibits employers from firing an employee via email, doing so never goes well. And, communicating such an important message in the most unempathetic way tends to damage a brand’s reputation. In 2023, tech companies like Twitter and Amazon issued mass layoff emails to their workforce. The public saw the move as a cruel way to fire long-serving employees.
So how do you avoid being labeled as an insensitive employer? One way is to use the best communication channels to announce the change. The channel you choose will depend on the type of organizational change you are announcing and the impact it will have on your company and its employees. Here are some options for you to consider:
- Meetings and presentations: Hold briefings, town hall meetings, or webinars to share updates and details about the change.
- Email and newsletters: Use company email and newsletters to distribute written updates, resources, and important dates related to the change.
- Intranet and internal web pages– Create a dedicated section on your company’s intranet or internal website to host all relevant information and resources related to the change.
- Collaboration tools: Use collaboration tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to share updates, encourage discussion, and provide an informal space for employees to ask questions.
- Individual and small group conversations: Encourage managers and supervisors to have one-on-one or small-group conversations with their team members to discuss change, resolve concerns, and provide support.
Clearly explain the reason for the change
Author Philip Crosby It was once quoted that “slowness to change is usually fear of the new.” Oftentimes, employees fear change simply because it’s something new that’s happening.
Explaining the reasons for changes in the workplace allows employees to adapt more effectively. When employees understand the rationale for changes, they can see the bigger picture. Humans in general are more likely to adopt new ways of working and proactively contribute to success if they understand the “why” behind it all. Therefore, as a leader, it is important that you do not skip this step.
Additionally, providing clear explanations of changes in the workplace helps maintain employee morale during periods of transition. Change can be a source of stress and uncertainty for employees. All of these can lead to decreased job satisfaction, increased turnover, and reduced overall performance. By openly communicating the reasons for the changes, leaders can alleviate some of the concerns and anxieties employees may experience.
When employees understand the benefits of the changes, they are more likely to feel a sense of ownership and commitment to the process. This can further improve morale and engagement.
Tell employees what’s in it for them
At some point, your employees will ask themselves, “What’s wrong with me?” This is a natural response for anyone. When we feel that changes are coming, we tend to wonder how these changes will affect us. We want to know if these changes will help or hurt our careers and our lives.
After explaining the reasons for the change, a good next step is to inform your employees of the benefits, even if they are minor. For example, you might decide to change the type of software you use with your computer. Your employees may resist this change if they have become accustomed to using the same programs daily.
But if you can communicate to them how the new software will make their jobs easier, minimize errors, and help them succeed, they’ll be more likely to view the change positively. Whether it’s a company acquisition or the introduction of a new leader, let your team know that there will ultimately be benefits on the horizon.
Specify what they have to do
The next logical step for your employees is to ask themselves what they need to do before, during and after the changes have been made. They may wonder if additional training is required or if they will be working extra hours or weekends.
This is where you, as a leader, need to be very specific about your employees’ role in the changes. For example, during a transition after a merger, many employees must work longer hours so that the transition does not affect customers. As a leader, you may not know exactly how many hours are needed to make the transition as smooth as possible.
However, telling your employees that they may be asked to work the occasional weekend or overtime is a good idea. You may also want to follow up with what they will be doing during those hours and if anything transversal training of employeesit is necessary. Giving your employees “notice” will help them better prepare for the future.
Provide opportunities for feedback and dialogue
Once you’ve laid out the changes and what’s expected of your employees, now it’s their turn to speak. Effective change communication is not a one-way street. The best way to implement a smooth change process is to allow your team to ask questions, voice concerns, and share feedback.
You want to allow your employees to submit feedback so you can increase engagement. The change process will be much easier if your team is on board with the direction you’re headed. By giving them a voice, you will include them in the process. Employees want to know that their opinions matter. By giving them the opportunity to provide feedback and engage in dialogue, they will be much more likely to see the changes as positive.
Consider implementing the following strategies:
- Question and answer sessions: Host regular question and answer sessions.
- Surveys and polls: Distribute anonymous surveys or polls to gauge employee understanding, sentiment, and concerns about the change.
- Open door policy: Encourage leaders to maintain an open door policy. Invite employees to discuss their thoughts and concerns about the change in a safe and supportive environment.
- Feedback channels: Create dedicated channels, such as email addresses or online forms, where employees can submit comments, questions, or concerns about the change.
- Check-Ins: Schedule follow-up conversations with managers and supervisors.
Address employee concerns and resistance
Office rumors often start among employees because of issues that are not clearly addressed by management. When fear prevails in the workplace, rumors and gossip tend to grow as the lack of verifiable information becomes available. That’s why you, as a leader, want to address these knowledge gaps directly.
Resistance to change is a natural human response, especially when change is perceived as disruptive or threatening. It is important to recognize and address employee concerns and resistance, both individually and collectively, in order to build trust and facilitate a smoother transition. Take the time to address each one employee concerns and their reasons for resistance. Note that there are many of them reasons why employees resist change. Give clear and honest answers to their questions. And, if necessary, direct them to additional resources or support services.
Follow-up and adjustment of your communication strategy
As the change process unfolds, it is essential to monitor the effectiveness of your communication efforts. How is your team reacting to the change? Were they put off at first and now they’re settling in? Or were they fine in the beginning and now everyone is panicking?
Regularly assess employee understanding, engagement and satisfaction. You can do this by providing surveys and polls, as mentioned above. However, you can also control the overall mood of your workplace. have you seen signs of declining employee morale? How productive have your employees been since the changes were announced? All of these factors will help you determine if your change communication is working well or if you need to modify your strategy.
Celebrating milestones and successes
Finally, it’s important to recognize and celebrate the milestones and successes you’ve experienced. By recognizing progress and achievements, you can help maintain employee morale, motivation and engagement. When you let them know how well they’re doing, it reinforces their commitment to change.
Consider holding celebratory events or recognizing individual and team achievements. Or, do something simple like shout outs in company communications and company social media profiles. Constantly highlight the positive results and progress made with the change. This will help create a more optimistic and resilient organizational culture.
Communicating change to your employees doesn’t have to be difficult. Your employees have valid concerns about their jobs, lives and futures. As a leader, you can ease their fears with the right change communication plan. Take the time to implement the strategies mentioned above. Commit to the communication process and you’ll help your team adapt more effectively to change, ultimately creating a stronger, more resilient organization. And it’s the process, improve general communication with your employees.
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Company Culture · Featured · Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Leadership · Mindset · Productivity · Success
Find your way · Grow your business · Lead your team · Productivity
Change can be a source of stress for employees and organizations alike. At Ikaroa, we understand the importance of effective communication when introducing change. Here are some best practices for helping organizations communicate change to employees in a way that ensures understanding and acceptance.
1. Start Early: Managing employee expectations starts by getting out ahead of the news and actively reaching out. Ideally, this begins with a pre-conference call or one-on-one meetings with key leaders prior to any move being finalized. Let your team know that change is coming and give them time to process their emotions before the change is official and widespread.
2. Listen: Employees will have their own thoughts and ideas about the change and their concerns should be addressed. Try to uncover any underlying issues and use those to create a plan of action. Everyone appreciates being heard, so listen carefully and be respectful.
3. Explain the Benefits: After you have gathered input from employees, it’s important to ensure they understand the benefits of the change and how it will affect their role or team, as well as the company as a whole. Enlighten them about the purpose and value of the change so that they feel their input is appreciated.
4. Offer Guidance: If employees feel uncertain or are at a loss as to how to adapt their skills or behaviour, it’s important to offer them the guidance they need to succeed. Ikaroa recognizes that change can feel disruptive, so provide practical tools and resources they can use to adapt to their new environment.
No one likes change, but with the right approach, you can make it much easier for employees to accept and embrace it. At Ikaroa, we understand that communication is key when it comes to introducing change, and we strive to do it in a way that is effective and respectful of our employees. With the right strategy, you can ensure the change process is not only successful, but less intimidating for those affected.