Change Management and Your Communication Strategy

In business, you'll inevitably need to learn the art of change management. Whether it's a public offering, corporate merger or layoffs, you want to be prepared to communicate news of change effectively.

Communicating change

The key to communicating change is simple: Do it quickly and accurately. One of the biggest drains on employee morale can occur when staff members hear or read company news from someone outside the company before they hear the news internally. Therefore, small businesses should make sure communicating change to their employees is a priority.

Whenever you're conveying bad news, you should assume that your staff members may already be discussing it. Change management involves setting the record straight and providing an opportunity for interaction and discussion. Not only should you communicate the news quickly and honestly, but you also need to pinpoint and address employee concerns.

Face-to-face is best

The best way of communicating change, especially news of an impending crisis, is face-to-face. A companywide meeting or department-wide session is best, if appropriate. You should provide opportunities for a question-and-answer session. If you think some employees will be afraid to speak up, let them submit questions anonymously.

Whatever you do, don't ignore bad news. By not addressing tough situations, you risk exacerbating the problem. In bad times, you cannot over-communicate. If you fail to address the situation, rumors will spiral.

Also keep in mind one of the most important rules of change management: Employees want to know to not only what's happening in the company but also why it's happening. It's human nature to second-guess, and not-so-good rumors may run rampant along the company grapevine without enough information to prevent the spread.