How to Communicate Effectively During Times of Change

Effective communication during times of rapid change is different in style to communication in a steady state or “business as usual” environment. If you are a team leader, here are some tips that you might find useful to practice at this time:

Make Communication Regular and Frequent
It is imperative to set the expectation that there will be regular communication that is credible and comprehensive. Often there is a tendency for people to wait to send any type of communication until all the information is known and available. This is a mistake! It’s much more important to cycle your communication and repeat the same message often than to wait until all the information is complete and perfect. What if you don’t know something? Tell them! You can always say, “We don’t have all the information yet, but this is what we do know.”

Values and Purpose as a “guiding star”
The organization’s values are the way things work around here and the purpose is why the company exists. If you have these articulated and they are alive, keep reminding people of them and that if they make decisions based on the organization’s purpose and values they will be better decisions.

Do Not Over-Rely on Email
Many people receive lots of emails every day. So, why then, does anyone think an email is going to have enough of an impact to change someone’s behaviour? You can be pretty sure that no one will change what they are currently doing solely because an email has gone out saying they should.

Use a Variety of Communication Means
Face-to-face discussion remains the most powerful method for communication and in the current situation where this might not be the best choice, there are some fantastic tech based alternatives and different ways to use this eg:
– Small Group Sessions
– One-on-One Meetings
– Focus Groups
– Team Meetings
– Hot Lines

Don’t Use a Top Down, One Size Fits All Communication
One of the biggest problems in communication is one of the easiest to solve. Communication is often “top down”, meaning it is written from the point of view of the senior manager writing the communication rather than the point of view of the recipients. The over-riding rationale is that once everyone reads the message, they will understand why the change is happening, they will be on-board and resistance will be non-existent. There are four words for this… Not. Going. To. Happen.

Instead, Use “Target Specific” Communication
Each target group needs to be considered differently. What is, and what is not changing for that group? What kind of language and examples will resonate for that group? What’s the “Frame of Reference” for those people? All communication must address the two most important questions from the individual or group’s point of view: “What’s in it for me?” and “What does it mean to me?” And, different target groups will have different answers to those questions!

Communication Must Include a Feedback Loop
Every communication that goes out must have a way for information and feedback to come back in. In other words, communications must be “cyclical” and “iterative.” Feedback loops are crucial in order to allow people to express their thoughts and feelings. And, it’s a perfect way for leaders to gather information about any potential sources of resistance to the change.

Monitor and Evaluate Your Communications for Effectiveness
Evaluate your communications to ensure they are achieving your goals. Test the effectiveness of your communications for both content and process.

If you would like help with ensuring effective communication at this time or simply want to support your team leaders in the area, please be in touch and we can explore what this could look like