5 ways to supercharge your change communication
Go beyond the facts to engage employees
Your company is going through a big change initiative. And you’re getting ready to release the first email to all employees about the change. The email is lengthy, full of facts and packed with jargon — sound familiar?
Before you hit send, ask yourself, is this message going to create a sense of excitement like a Tesla? Or simply bore employees like a ho-hum minivan? Because if it’s not going to engage employees, most will skim past it and miss key information.
Communication can make all the difference for employees when experiencing a change. So supercharge your communication with these 5 tips to engage employees.
1. Recruit change champions
During a change, leaders need help motivating their teams and communicating key messages. That’s where change champions come in. Change champions are advocates selected from across the company. Their role is to become knowledgeable about the change and to share that knowledge with fellow employees in their parts of the organization.
Change champions can help your change initiative succeed by:
· Building support
People are most influenced by their peers and people they trust. Find employees from different departments and career levels who can become knowledgeable about the change, share that knowledge with colleagues and tell their own personal stories of how the change impacted them. This builds a connection for employees while promoting awareness and understanding about the change in every business area.
· Gathering insights
Change champions are the bridge between change leaders (those managing the change) and employees (those impacted by the change). They can act as the “pulse” for the organization to listen, identify knowledge gaps, gather feedback and report back to change leaders.
· Reducing gossip
When a big change happens, the whispers start to circulate. Champions can help you counter rumors with facts and share accurate information with employees.
2. Create snack-sized content
When it comes to communication channels, employees are busy and don’t have time to sit down and consume an entire meal of information. They just want a bite (quick take) or snack (a little more substance) to satisfy their hunger for the topic. It’s no different for change communication. Even if employees want all the details, they don’t need all the facts at once. Keep your content snack-sized with these three tips:
· Keep it short. Allow yourself just 25 to 50 words to state your case.
· Use a single compelling image. Accompany your message with a single photo and brief caption that will grab your employees’ attention.
Verbify it. Create action-oriented headlines. If the only thing an employee reads is the headline, he or she should still understand what he or she needs to do.
3. Make the change tangible
The last thing employees want to do during a change is decoding messages about the change. When putting together your communication, imagine talking to the employee. Here are some tips on how you can bring your change messaging to life:
Be specific. Employees want messaging that’s straightforward and easy to understand. When creating content about your change, be as clear-cut as you can be so employees can understand the details. Use concrete examples; avoid using abstract language and corporate jargon.
To help you break it down, answer these questions:
· What is the change?
· Why did we decide to do this?
· Why is it important?
· How will this affect our employees?
Develop a picture. There are many techniques to help employees visualize the future and imagine their role in it. One way to visually communicate change is through an infographic that illustrates the change and what it takes to get there. Think of a mall map. It helps you understand where you are while getting the big picture. These visualizations can also serve as guides for one-on-one or team discussions.
4. Include high-touch experiences
One of the most powerful ways to build deep knowledge during a change is to hold sessions designed to encourage dialogue and interaction, answer questions and brainstorm solutions or approaches.
When employees are involved in figuring out the details of a change, they’re more committed to seeing it through. Here are a few examples:
· Workshops to solve a problem or figure out how to implement an aspect of the change
· Engagement sessions to identify barriers to change and solutions
· Coffee chats or meetings devoted solely to Q&A (No presentations!)
5. Recognize success
A key step in engaging employees in change is showing them the positive impact of the change. Sustaining a change requires an environment where employees see peers walking the talk, recognize that change is creating important results and believe they have a role to play.
Here are three ways to reinforce success and keep the positive momentum going:
1. Demonstrate progress. Help employees track the progress of the change by sharing a project plan — from the employees’ perspective — and updating it regularly. Especially when dealing with a long, multi-step change, it’s reassuring to know where you are and what’s left to do. Try updating a milestone tracker and distributing it in a weekly newsletter.
2. Celebrate milestones. Milestones are key dates and achievements along your change journey. And they’re worth celebrating! Each time a milestone is reached, create a memorable moment — from a team huddle to a company-wide party — to mark the achievement.
3. Recognize employees. There are few better ways to build pride and engagement than to recognize employees for their hard work. Feature these achievements by embedding special shout outs to individual contributors and teams in your communication channels, such as an article in a newsletter or during a town hall.
Encourage your employees to embrace change by trying one or more of these strategies. And for more advice on change communication, check out our e-book, Change communication made easy.