We’ve seen large organisations tackle big changes in recent years. Although we see the large press releases and public announcements that come with it, we usually don’t recognise the work that goes on behind the scenes. Any new decisions within a business has to first be successfully communicated to employees before the changes can be made public – after all, your team are the ones that are going to be directly involved with the implementation of this change.

Change can create a sense of unease and will push people out of their comfort zone – sometimes intentionally. But this is a big reason why you need to ensure the way you communicate change to your employees inside your business is effective and personable. Properly communicating can make the future more exciting and your employees will look forward to what’s to come. The aim is for them to see where they fit in this new outlook and to be enthusiastic about taking control of it.

Miscommunication can cost you and you’ll quickly see the negative impact it can have if you don’t approach it correctly. Change isn’t always easy, and it’s not always what you expect. However, keeping employees involved and informed throughout the process makes a big difference in both the experience they have and the outcome your business will see. They’re supporting you through it as much as you are supporting them. So to see the best results, take note of these tips for how to communicate change to your employees successfully.

#1 Open and honest

Don’t beat around the bush when you sit down to have a conversation with your employees. They respect your position in the company and so deserve respect in return. This means allowing them the full truth without any sugarcoating. Help them to fully understand why changes are being made and what impact it will have on them. The more transparent you can be, the less likely things are to get lost in translation or misunderstood entirely.

Understandably, you might not have the whole picture because the journey can be hard to predict. But communicating why will make up for not having all the answers. Let your employees know as much as possible what benefits these changes will have on the company and what’s led you down the path in the first place. Without real rhyme or reason, they’ll be unlikely to get on board and you may risk losing some key team members in the process. Also, encourage employees to ask questions (even if you may not know the answer). This keeps all lines of communication open so they always feel part of the change. 

communicate change to your employees

#2 Outline the impact on them

They might all sit quietly and listen while you talk, but it’s almost certain your employees will all be thinking the same thing – “well, what’s in it for me?” Personally and/or professionally, a change to the business is going to impact your staff in some way. Their role might change or the expectations associated with some departments may differ afterwards. Whatever it may be, it’s your job to tell them and be crystal clear about it. Fewer surprises in the future make for far more understanding and happier employees.

However, if you’re looking at a situation where you’ve been thrown in the deep end and perhaps the path you are having to take wasn’t one you wanted – you need to let them know that too. Even if your team isn’t going to get anything out of it at all – they deserve to know. Highlight the full extent of the transitions and put everything on the table. Not all change is positive in every aspect, they should know you well enough to understand that, so just be honest. Furthermore, highlight how you’ll support staff through these changes – whilst something may seem difficult on the surface, if an employee understands how you’ll be supporting them, you can eliminate any fear of what’s to come. 

#3 Set new expectations

The more you can tell people about the whens, wheres and whats, the better. Outlining their roles and the pathway everyone is going to take when you communicate change to your employees is going to ensure everyone’s on the same page from the off. People will be looking for concise pointers as to what’s expected from them moving forward. They’ll be comfortable in their job role so will want to plan ahead and organise what priorities will change and possibly get used to new ways of doing what they already know.

This step is where you are going to see who is on board right away and who isn’t. It’s critical for your business and employees alike that issues can be addressed here and people’s responsibilities laid out for everyone to understand. Having these to hand also lets people know that you’ve thought the effects through and have come to terms with it yourself before trying to communicate change to your employees or anyone else in the company, unsure of the direction you’re going in.

#4 Target your communication accordingly 

It’s likely that any change you implement will impact people from different areas of the business more than others. In this case, you need to prioritise and target the way you communicate accordingly. While no one should be left in the dark, you may present your expectations differently to those who are going to see the most impact. This will also allow you some breathing space within the company and mean you’re not overwhelmed with questions from people who aren’t as close to the changes. 

Prove to your employees that they have your support by empathising with them when they express their worries. Understand how this will affect their job role and carefully think through what you’ll expect from them in the long run as a result of this. Then you’ll be able to effectively communicate your plans with them and have a two-sided conversation – rather than you telling them what’s what and them coming back to you days later, unsettled and with a hoard of questions.

#5 Keep the line open

Open lines of communication for both parties is essential at times like these. If it’s not possible for you to be available for all employees – ensure they know who is. Whether it be a manager, supervisor or someone alike; everybody should know who they can go to and who may come to them. Firstly, when employees have someone to go to – it instils an environment of teamwork and conscientiousness which is beneficial to any business. They can ask colleagues and those above them for general advice or solutions for these new expectations.

Furthermore, if you and your managers have this line of communication between employees, it gives you clear access to the day to day running of your company. You will quickly realise any issues that need to be rectified and will always be on top of progress and results. The minute you stop that communication – you lose your link to the inside workings. Without it, people get lost and the values held by the business and employees no longer align.

#6 Model the change you want to see

Of course, some changes are going to be out of your control. However, if employees don’t see something being implemented company-wide, they won’t believe they’re responsible for carrying out the new behaviours either. The best way to communicate is to model it yourself first. Set an example for your people and they’ll know exactly what you expect of them.

You’re far more likely to see success if senior leaders promote it too. Give your managers the resources and encouragement they need to address resistance and support their team proactively. Extra information will go a long way and make them feel confident in pushing for the change you want to see. Help them to help you and lead by example – then it will be clear to everyone.

How you communicate change to your employees is important

Change can be sudden and hard to handle. Not everyone adapts well to it, so easing the transition for your employees as much as possible is going to benefit you greatly and reassure your team. Start by getting your own head around it – only then will you be ready to communicate effectively and successfully. You will find that people are worried or excited about different things, so think carefully about how you are going to relay information to different groups and prioritise who needs to know what. If you do all these things, you’ll be well on your way to a smooth transition in a time of change.

Are you looking to implement change in your business but aren’t sure where to begin? With over 30 years of experience, I can help you to formulate a solid action plan, tailoring my approach to best suit your business needs. Whether it be communicating change or enhancing your client acquisition, get in touch today to transform your organisation. 

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