How to Successfully Communicate Change

In business, it is universally difficult to successfully communicate change. Regardless of the size of the company, when leadership makes the decision to change direction, change its focus, or change its process, employees feel the brunt of the change. This can create resistance among employees, potentially manifesting into larger nonacceptance of the organization’s decisions later on. The ability to communicate change effectively is a major factor in the acceptance of any change within an organization. While it takes time to properly communicate change throughout the organization, doing so leaves less chance for resistance and disapproval.

Communicate Change amongst Leadership

When a business needs to implement a change, leadership is at the forefront of the discussion. It is at this point that leadership needs to communicate the change clearly and definitively among themselves before taking the message to the organization. By making sure that leadership is on the same page, change managers, and others who will be communicating change, can ensure that employees don’t receive mixed messages. The success of the message comes not only through a unified message from leadership but also through the perception of complete support and unwavering commitment.

Communicate Change amongst Employees

An integral part of employees becoming receptive to organizational change is that they understand the need for change. Leadership should initially communicate change in a clear and concise manner, then work to inform employees how the change will be implemented. It’s best for employees to have a solid understanding of why there needs to be change first, before explaining how the changes will affect them. Approaching the communication in this manner will help dispel the common perception that the effort to change is too much when compared to the need for change. To help with any perception issues, leadership should take the time to create a message that speaks to its employees and creates an environment for open dialogue. The message should be written to address major concerns that employees have, attempting to remove any doubt over the change.

Change is inevitable in business and that will always be constant. Managing how any inevitable change is communicated should therefore become a core competency of any successful business. Organizations that communicate change in a planned and organized manner, starting with leadership initially, are better able to create a clear and consistent message for their employees. With that message, employees can understand their role in the organization's change, as well as the effects on the entire organization, lessening insecurities and concerns. To successfully communicate change one must embrace how the message is perceived and how employees feel the message has addressed their concerns. With unified support from leadership and an open dialogue with employees, change can be communicated successfully.

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About Michael Parker

Michael Parker is the founder and president of Lean Sigma Corporation, a leading Lean Six Sigma certification provider, and licensor of premium training content to universities and corporations world wide. Michael has over 25 years of experience leading and executing Lean Six Sigma programs and projects. As a Fortune 50 senior executive, Michael led oversight of project portfolios as large as 150 concurrent projects exceeding $100 million in annual capital expenditures. Michael has also managed multi-site operations with the accountability of over 250 quality assurance managers, analysts, and consultants. He is an economist by education, earning his Bachelor of Science degree from Radford University while also lettering four years as an NCAA Division I scholarship athlete. Michael earned his Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification from Bank of America and his Black Belt certification from R.R. Donnelley & Sons. He holds nine U.S. Copyrights for his "Learn Six Sigma" publications, and a U.S. Patent.