Communication Strategy- Say what you mean and mean what you say
When change is initiated through projects, a good Communication Strategy is at the heart of any successful change management process. It is important that an effective communication strategy is defined about the reasons, the benefits, the plans and proposed effects of that change. This Communication Strategy should be maintained throughout the duration of the change management programme.
Your communication strategy needs to address the key questions:
- What are the objectives?
- What are the key messages?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What information will be communicated?
- When will information be disseminated, and what are the relevant timings?
- How much information will be provided, and to what level of detail?
- What mechanisms will be used to disseminate information?
- How will feedback be encouraged?
- What will be done as a result of feedback?
Your communication strategy needs to address the key EMOTIONAL questions
William Bridges focuses on the emotional and psychological impact and aspect of the change through these 3 simple questions:
(1) What is changing? Bridges offers the following guidance – the change leader’s communication statement must:
- Clearly express the change leader’s understanding and intention
- Link the change to the drivers that make it necessary
- Sell the problem before you try to sell the solution
- Not use jargon
(2) What will actually be different because of the change? Bridges says: “I go into organizations where a change initiative is well underway, and I ask what will be different when the change is done-and no one can answer the question… a change may seem very important and very real to the leader, but to the people who have to make it work it seems quite abstract and vague until actual differences that it will make begin to become clear. It should be priority to get those differences clear”
(3) Who’s going to lose what? Bridges maintains that the situational changes are not as difficult for companies to make as the psychological transitions of the people impacted by the change. Transition management is all about seeing the situation through the eyes of the other guy. It is a perspective based on empathy. It is a management and communication process that recognizes and affirms people’s realities and works with them to bring them through the transition. Failure to do this, on the part of change leaders, and a denial of the losses and “lettings go” that people are faced with, sows the seeds of mistrust.
5 guiding principles of a good change management communication strategy
So, in summary the 5 guiding principles of a good change management communication strategy are as follows:
- Clarity of message – to ensure relevance and recognition
- Resonance of message – the emotional tone and delivery of the message
- Accurate targeting – to reach the right people with the right message
- Timing schedule – to achieve timely targeting of messages
- Feedback process – to ensure genuine two way communication
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If you want to work with Stephen Warrilow, please visit www.strategies-for-managing-change to learn how to manage change successfully.