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A Defined Approach to Communicating on Change Initiatives Makes a Difference

Put Communication Policies in Place to Ensure Success of Change Initiatives

Having a defined approach to how we communicate on change initiatives makes a tremendous difference toward ensuring success of organizational change. A defined approach means that the organization has in place:

  • A strategic change communication plan
  • A group responsible for communicating on change
  • Defined (but flexible) processes, procedures and guidelines for how communication about change happens

The goal in defining an approach to communicating about change is to ensure that change initiatives are successful through participation in and adoption of the change by the employees (the stakeholders.) Change initiatives are unlikely to be successful if the stakeholders are not engaged early on, throughout the change initiative implementation and checked in with afterwards. A structured approach to communication enables for this engagement.

In this post, I want to talk about what it means to have a defined, or structured, approach to how to communicate on change initiatives.

Every change initiative needs a strategy for what will be communicated, how and when. This may vary based on the complexity of the change initiative. For simple change initiatives that may impact only one function or a workgroup and may not require any changes in how people work, you might communicate a week before with stakeholders to prepare them. For a moderately complex change initiative, one that impacts a few functions, requires some changes in processes, and requires changes in how people work, you might communicate a few weeks before with stakeholders to prepare them. For more complex, transformational change initiatives that impacts a significant portion, if not all, of the organization and requires significant changes in how people work and processes within the organization, you might communicate one, two, or three months prior to launch in order to prepare and engage stakeholders in the initiative.

When structuring communications about a change initiative, consider the following questions regarding communication activities in the organization overall…

  • What communication activities have been most successful in past change initiatives?
  • What communications activities were least successful in past change initiatives?
  • What communication activities would help to reach the widest audience?
  • What communication activities are important when we need to bring along a large number of individuals who may not support the initiative?

The answers to these questions enables for you structure more successful communications for the upcoming change initiative.

The initial communication on a change initiative is the first opportunity to engage stakeholders in the change project. Before developing and launching this first communication to announce the change initiative, consider how to respond to the following questions and/or concerns that may likely arise from stakeholders:

  • What external and internal factors are diving change?
  • What’s the vision for the change?
  • How does the change benefit the organization?
  • What is the impact on the organization if the change does not occur?
  • How does the change benefit the individual?


  • What is the impact on the individual if the change does not occur?
  • How will the organization look when the change is implemented?
  • How will individual roles and responsibilities change?
  • What needs to be done by the organization to support the vision?
  • What needs to be done by the individuals to support the vision?

Upfront, early communications enables for feedback and input from stakeholders which helps to identify the negative impacts of a change initiative, allowing for addressing these issues beforehand to ensure success of the initiative. It also helps in identifying who may be championing the change initiative and who may be resisting it.

Your processes around communicating on change initiatives should focus also on how communications will be delivered to stakeholders. Use a variety of channels, or modes, to communicate – depending on what works best and is acceptable in your organization.

  • Face-to-face and virtual meetings
  • All staff or department/small group meetings
  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Stakeholder Support Committees
  • Company “home pages”
    (Internet browser)
  • Posters
  • Emails
  • E-newsletters
  • internal site/project portal
  • direct “mail”/postcards
  • informal conversations
  • video screens

This post shares just a few ways to ensure a defined approach to how you need to communicate about change. Want to learn more about how to make sure your change initiatives are successful?

Contact Abudi Consulting Group about consulting, training and coaching services to ensure your change management initiatives are a success. Purchase Gina’s book, Implementing Positive Organizational Change: A Strategic Project Management Approach, J Ross Publishing, 2017.

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