Just like in our everyday lives, change is inevitable in the professional world. There can be many reasons for an organizational change and, whatever the reason, it takes a tremendous amount of communication to ensure a smooth transition. Whether it’s re-branding, new policies and procedures, integration, or a re-structure, the fact of the matter is that everyone within a company is a part of the change. As communicators, Take Roots has seen some leadership groups forget that fact, which ultimately makes a shift much more difficult than it has to be.
There are times when leaders must make decisions without input from others areas of the company that ultimately may be impacted; for example, in the case of a rebuild, key decisions must be made confidentially. While that is understandable, a lack of communication following the decision is not; just because employees weren’t involved in the original decision, doesn’t mean they should be left in the dark. When communicating through change consider the following:
- Make employees understand the changes using more facts than opinions
- Clearly state that while changes can be difficult, this will make the company better (again, using facts)
- Don’t forget about the employees! If the only thing included is how this benefits the company and not about how it will be better for the employees as well, it will seem like the company doesn’t care about them
People are allowed to initially have hesitation. The more their trepidations are dismissed, the more these feelings will stick around. Their concerns are valid. Make them see that they are an important part of the changes and, without them, it wouldn’t be possible. This isn’t blowing smoke to get them to be quiet– everyone is important in any change a company makes. In the midst of change, this is often forgotten, which makes employees across the organization feel undervalued. This can definitely lead to a lack of employee engagement, which is never good.
Communicate Early and Often
There are most definitely times when communication can be made throughout a process. Let’s look at the following scenarios:
- Policies and procedures become outdated within a company. Employees, customers and stakeholders have taken notice, and are not happy with the amount of issues popping up as a result. It’s been decided that a change must be made, but the specifics aren’t set in stone. This is perfectly understandable, as often these things can take some time and require consultation. Communicating the fact that change is coming will create a smooth transition and foster a ‘buy in’ mindset. Employees will often have more patience, since they know changes are coming.
- Now let’s say changes are coming but the company decides to remain silent. What do you think will happen? Employees’ agitation with the situation will only increase, which may cause them to lose trust in company leadership. In this scenario, employee engagement usually decreases as a direct result of their lack of trust. Are we sensing a theme here?
- Consumers and clients also want to know when an issue that has affected them is being dealt with. There’s nothing wrong with communicating that you’re aware of the problem and dealing with it as swiftly as possible (be sure to actually deal with the problem– it won’t just go away, trust us!).
By now we know that change affects everyone within an organization either directly or indirectly. How it is communicated can make all the difference in the world. Is training required? Communicate that. Do the changes start immediately, or will they gradually be brought in? Communication that. Is every department affected? Communicate that. How will the consumer or client be affected? Communicate that. I think you catch our drift.
If the change truly is for the better, consumers, employees and stakeholders will see that over time. Yes, change can be difficult, but with effective communication, a smooth transition is well within reach.
Need help navigating an organizational change? Take Roots can help!