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The Importance of Communicating Your Change Initiatives

Change initiatives – even the ones that seemed so simple at the start! – are often complex projects. In the challenge of trying to manage change initiatives, we forget about the importance of communicating with those around us about the initiative – right from the very beginning all the way through implementation.

Before the actual start of the change initiative, you should be focused on getting input (ideas, suggestions) from those who will be affected by the change initiative. Start by making a list of all your stakeholders, including additional information such as:

  • Stakeholder name
  • Role in organization/responsibilities
  • How (s)he will be impacted by the change initiative
  • Concerns they do have or may have
  • What you need from them
  • How you will communicate with them

In your initiative communication, cover the following information:

  • The change initiative that will be launched
  • The benefit of this initiative to both the organization and the individual
  • What you need from others for it to be successful (ideas, data, suggestions, input)

Your goal is to get buy-in and commitment. Change initiatives cannot be successful if they are not supported throughout the organization. You need to get champions from throughout the organization – not solely at the leadership level – for your initiative to be successful. You can only get champions throughout frequent involvement of others and regular communications.
To ensure successful communications about your change initiative, consider past change initiatives at the organization:

  • How have change initiatives been communicated successfully in the past? What channels were used for communication? What communication activities took place?
  • What change initiatives have not been communicated successfully in the past? Why not? What was ineffective about those communications?
  • What else is going on in the organization that may impact your communications?

Regular communications in the planning phase are necessary to keep people engaged. Choose a variety of communication paths to ensure you reach the broadest audience. Consider emails, “lunch & learns,” posters in the hallway, information on a company portal, small group meetings.

Once implemented, regular communications are essential to ensure that the transition is working and that people are getting what they need (support, training, transition time) to be successful. Are there mechanisms in place to gather feedback from those who are impacted by the change initiative? Consider a variety of methods such as surveys, focus groups, department meetings, suggestion box, one-on-one meetings, suggestion box, etc.

Regularly ask your stakeholders:

  • What’s working?
  • What’s not working so well?

Change is not a one-time event that, when implemented, is complete. Change is constant (or is in the most successful organizations) and requires regular communications and evaluating to ensure success. Once implemented, reach out to those impacted by the change to “check in” and evaluate the success of the initiative. Consider evaluating at regular intervals – 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year – to ensure that the change is “sticking.”

Bottom line – the more you communicate, in a variety of ways and via a variety of channels – the more you will increase buy-in and support and gain champions for your change effort. Make sure that people see not just how the change  benefits the organization as a whole, but how it benefits the individuals and enables them to better perform their role and responsibilities within the organization.

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