SCHEDULE DEMO
ENGAGEMENT IQ
Where awesome workplaces grow.

7 Mistakes You’re Making When Communicating Organizational Change

/ 8.10.17


arrow-on-road-157565746_2124x1413.jpegI recently spoke with a CEO about trends that surfaced in his organization’s latest employee engagement survey. The survey item “When the organization makes changes, I understand why” was one of the least favorable among employees, yet a key driver (or influencer) of his employees’ engagement. “We communicated the organizational change,” he declared. “I don’t understand why this item is so low.” His tone showed concern, not anger. He wanted employees to know what was going on and felt he had appropriately shared information. What was the miss?

 

I have these kinds of conversations quite frequently; an organizational change occurs, the organization communicates about the change, and employees indicate they don’t fully understand the change.  When I delve deeper into conversations with executives and their employees, I often confirm that although communication did occur, it was missing some or all of the following key components to make it more effective:

 

The Mistake:

Communication describes how the organizational change will impact the business, not its employees.

 

The Fix:  

Don’t just describe how business metrics, customers, processes, or strategy are impacted by organizational change. What is the impact on employees’ work, daily experience, or job stability? The main curiosity most employees have is “How does this impact me?” Acknowledge what will and won’t be different for employees.

 

The Mistake:

“Why” isn’t covered.

 

The Fix:

Don’t just cover what is changing and when. The “why” helps employees understand that this isn’t change just for the sake of change, and it can also illustrate that the change was thought through and justified. 

 

The Mistake:

Communication is one-way.

 

The Fix:

Many organizations do a good job of using multiple vehicles to communicate organizational change: emails, intranet postings, all-hands meetings. This approach helps ensure that every employee hears your message, but this alone doesn’t provide employees with an outlet to ask questions, offer ideas, or share their concerns. The more that people feel their voices are heard, the more buy-in you’ll get. Employees are typically closest to processes, so they are likely to bring critical considerations or ideas to further shape the change that otherwise may have been missed.

 

The Mistake:

Communication doesn’t continue over time.

 

The Fix:

Organizational change takes time. However, communication often doesn’t extend much beyond an initial announcement. What progress has the organization made in implementing the change? Is the intended impact occurring? Has anything unexpected occurred? How are employees feeling? What is left to come? Just as change takes time, communication should extend across time.

 

The Mistake:

Uncertainty isn’t addressed.

 

The Fix:

Even the best-planned organizational changes create some uncertainty. Leaders must also face the reality that more change may be needed in the future. Employees will appreciate your honesty if you indicate that there are things you don’t yet know. This helps them see you’re not hiding anything, which can help build trust.

 

The Mistake:

Managers aren’t leveraged in the communication process.

 

The Fix:

Managers need to have enough information to answer employees’ questions, calm their concerns, or clarify uncertainty. Managers may also need a system for escalating questions, ideas, or concerns they aren’t able to address. When preparing for an organizational change, prepare your managers and explain their accountability in communication. Check in with them throughout the change process to see if they need additional information or resources.

 

The Mistake:

Organizational change is positioned as a rare or one-time thing.

 

The Fix:

I rarely encounter an organization these days that’s not going through change, whether it’s a new executive leader, new technology put into place, a pending merger, or a reorganization. Although some types of organizational change may truly be rare, avoid describing all changes as “an event” because the next time you face a change, your employees will inevitably fret about “another change.” If change is constant — and this is true for most organizations — then over communicate your mission and vision. Emphasize agility and why it benefits the organization. Explain how employees play a role. Your employees will understand where you’re headed, understand how they may be part of the future, and expect change to be part of the ride.

 

When your organization makes changes, do employees understand why? Squash employee uncertainty and effectively manage change with the essential change management templates and communication tools below.

 

Ebook Download: 5 Essential Change Management Templates

 

 

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT LIKE

Post A Comment

0 Comments