Evans Incorporated’s 25 Year Anniversary is approaching, so we’re taking the next few months to reflect on where we are currently and what’s to come! This includes highlighting one of our areas of specialization per month through September. The focus for the month of July is Change Management and Communications.
Creating a change plan and having a strategy in place is only half the battle to implementing new ideas, methods, or a change in leadership. Something that can be overlooked but has a huge impact on the success of change implementation is the communication that accompanies the change. This Thrive in Five is dedicated to just that: communicating change, and how to effectively do so. Our own expert in communicating in times of change Kristen Wright weighs in as our feature at the bottom of this newsletter.
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Characteristics of Effective Change Communications
Evans Incorporated makes a big effort to make sure we follow our own advice when communicating and implementing change, which includes the following tips:
- Build trust by following through on communicated commitments. Trust is extremely important during change. Without trust in the change leaders, there will be increased hesitancy and resistance to adopt the change.
- Ensure consistency and uniformity of messages. If messages coming from different sources say different things, you can imagine the confusion it would cause. Make sure all messages portray accurate and consistent information.
- Time communications with an appropriate frequency. You don’t want it to feel like you’re hounding people or that you’ve left people high and dry. Find a happy middle ground that’s appropriate for the change you’re implementing.
- Target your messaging based on the needs of specific audiences. It’s tempting to want to share either everything or the very minimum. Focus instead on sharing the appropriate information with the appropriate people and on framing the message in a way that speaks to their role in the change.
- Use an appropriate medium for communicating. Think about your message and the best way to send it. Should it be face-to-face or over email? Should it be both or only one? Is something else more suitable?
- Share information as soon as possible. While waiting until information is solid is a good strategy so that you’re not sharing information that will be outdated in a week, you also run the risk of “grapevine” stories by not sharing quickly. Share information as soon as you can and make sure people know who to approach if they have questions. Also make sure you’re communicating to those involved in the change whether or not the information is ready to be shared.
- Use a variety of communication pathways and vehicles. This ties back to using the appropriate medium. While you should still consider the medium, you should also recognize that one medium doesn’t usually reach everyone the message is intended for, even if it theoretically should. Using multiple pathways will help remedy this gap to make sure the message gets to everybody it needs to.
- Give multiple opportunities for others to share concerns, ask questions, and offer ideas, as well as follow up with answers and updates. As with any change, there will be questions, and there will those with concerns. Give avenues for these questions and concerns to be heard and answered. If you ignore them, it will only ignite the spark.
- Ensure availability and openness of leaders and change sponsors as much as possible. Making a change is made far more difficult if those leading the change are inaccessible. Using the communication pathways mentioned before, make change leaders available to answer questions, address concerns, and support the change from every aspect of the organization.
Apply the Five!
Change is the only constant, so we challenge you to pick one change in your world right now, and think about how it’s being communicated by answering the following 9 questions:
- Is there trust in those leading the change?
- Have the change messages been consistent?
- Has the timing of the messages been appropriate?
- Are you getting the right amount of information for your role in the change?
- Are the messages being communicated in an appropriate medium?
- Is information being shared as soon as possible but not too soon?
- Have the messages been given in multiple ways?
- Have there been opportunities for those not leading the change to ask questions and get answers?
- Are the leaders of the change easily accessible for questions or concerns?
If you answered yes to 7 or more of these questions, you’re doing a pretty good job! Just a few things to tweak, but it looks like you’re off to a great start.
If you answered yes to less than 7 questions, then take a moment to think through the communication plan and how it can be improved. If you’d like to know more, you can reach out to Evans’ own change management and communication experts Beth Zimmerman and Kristen Wright for more information, or you can sign up below for our Change Management & Communication Webinar on July 26th, 2018 from 12 noon to 1 pm, EDT.
Learn How Evans Thrives!
What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?
Meet Kristen Wright!
As an English and Communications professor, one of the things that I used to emphasize to all of my students was the importance of understanding why an audience might disagree with them. Too often, when we are trying to persuade an audience, we want to tell them the same things that persuaded us, but that is not always effective.
This awareness is especially important during change communications. People can feel very passionately about changes that impact their lives and their work, so communications must be tailored to each audience’s needs.
To do this, we need to consider:
- How do people feel about the change?
- What do they like and why?
- What do they not like, and why do they feel that way?
- What can we do or say to make them feel more comfortable and even enthusiastic?
- What methods can we use to actively solicit their feedback and to show that their voices are being heard?
Putting ourselves in our audience’s shoes takes a little effort but can have big payoffs later when more people see the change benefits and the change is adopted quickly, reducing potential dips in productivity and work quality.
Until Next Time…
The Evans Thrive Team
(Nicole, Kaitlin, Laura, Bob, and Sean)
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)