When Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that the only constant in life is change, he may not have realized how his words would become timeless. Nor that they’d speak the fundamental truth that applies to all spheres of life—including work. Change is an inevitable reality for any business. It’s the root of growth, adaptation to market fluctuations, the evolution of technology, and so much more.
It’s also not a negative aspect of business, despite the fact that it can cause upheaval and require a new approach to old standards. In fact, change can be an indication that a business is healthy and operating in a sustainable and dynamic manner.
That said, it’s absolutely crucial to effectively communicate changes to those who it generally affects the most; your employees.
If change is communicated clearly in an organization, it can sustain productive collaboration, maintain clarity, and promote employee engagement.
In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the best strategies for communicating changes to employees. You can utilize these tips and tricks to ensure your business operates in a transparent, efficient, and harmonious manner that supports the maximization of returns on human capital.
Maintain Honesty and Clarity
Before you begin to strategize about communication channel preferences, it’s important to identify the ethics and priorities which underpin your communication with employees. If your communication is to be effective, it’s absolutely essential that you prioritize honesty and clarity.
Employees can usually tell when the truth is being bent in an attempt to deliver more palatable news. While the intention behind sugar-coating things may be well-meaning, it ultimately undermines the efficacy of communication. Employees will feel that the news is not genuine and will therefore not integrate this new knowledge into their workplace behaviors.
It’s also important to ensure that your communication is accessible and clear to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding. Avoid technical terms or jargon that may not be understood by everyone in your target audience. This guarantees that all employees comprehend the change as well as the justification behind the decision.
Consistency is Key
Effective communication should not exist in a silo. As a business owner, leader, or HR professional, it’s important to exercise good communication skills outside of where change is taking place. You need to prioritize communicating in a consistent and frequent manner to maintain a company-wide consensus on business operations, goals, and ethics.
Maintain your communication strategy throughout and beyond the change implementation period to ensure consistent employee buy-in and understanding. This also assists in fostering a culture of transparency and trust. Both of which are essential components for optimizing employee potential and job satisfaction.
Diversify Communication Channels
Now that we’ve established that regular, honest communication is vital, it’s important to note that your channels for distributing information are just as important.
Strategically selecting multiple communication channels will ensure that absolutely everyone has access to information relating to changes. Many people will exclusively utilize email as a communication channel. While this strategy is certainly recommended, there are many other complementary methodologies that should be explored. You may choose to utilize a digital or hard copy poster or to pin a post to a company-wide communication channel.
Opting for multiple channels to get a message across not only ensures that all employees are aware of changes, but that they're reminded of them, too.
Offer Feedback Channels
One of the most common mistakes that companies make when communicating changes is forgetting that communication is a two-way street. It’s incredibly important to offer spaces where individuals can ask for clarification and provide feedback on the company’s communication, or about the changes themselves.
Furthermore, once you’ve received feedback, it’s crucial that you genuinely consider and integrate this input. This demonstrates that you value the opinions of your employees, which bolsters their sense of job satisfaction. Doing so leads to greater productivity, as employees are more invested in the revised company changes. Your HR department should know how to successfully mediate and encourage employee feedback to bolster the efficacy of your communication relating to company changes.
Connect the Message to Employees
One of the fundamental principles of employee engagement and generally maximizing human potential is connecting the purpose and goals of the organization to the individual. It’s immensely challenging to truly maximize returns on human capital if employees don’t feel connected to their work or the overarching mission of the company. The same applies to effectively communicating changes.
When communicating changes, you need to detail what’s in it for employees and how it affects or relates to them. This is essentially a matter of outlining why they should care. The changes may relate to enhanced work experience, rewards, or ethical principles. But whatever the motivation, it’s important to consistently demonstrate the relevance of changes to bolster employee performance and buy in for a more successful transition process.
Many people assume that aesthetics is a totally superficial consideration with no bearing on the real world of work and company communication. This is a huge mistake.
Aesthetics is a vital component of communication as it impacts the appeal and accessibility of the message.
You need to ensure that your change-related communication grabs employees’ attention while evoking an emotional sensation to effectively convey key messages and motivations.
A visually appealing poster or notification is much more likely to engage employees and make a lasting impression. This ultimately supports the effective company-wide implementation of changes and facilitates smooth transitions while fostering a spirit of engagement and productivity.
Some Things Never Change
While effectively communicating change is crucial for any business considering how to calculate profit margin and maximize returns on employee involvement, it’s just as important to reinforce what will never change. A business that’s constantly pivoting in opposing directions will not be successful—an undercurrent of stability and focus is absolutely vital.
Communicating what will never change provides employees with a sense of stability. They can rest assured that fundamental business ethics and long-term goals won’t get compromised for the sake of short-term trends or economic fluctuations.
Implementing these 7 tips will ensure that you can effectively communicate changes to employees while promoting an engaged and productive work environment. In doing so, you can navigate change without compromising on output or negatively affecting operations.