As experts in Business Improvement, we have produced countless insights covering the key components to making a successful change. From blogs impressing the importance of good leadership during change management to articles urging an understanding of the emotional elements of implementing change. Within all this information, there always seems to be one key component that emerges each time…
A key aspect of leadership? Communication. An essential component to overcome the fear of change? Communication. How to achieve buy-in for change initiatives? Communication.
It seems what they say is true; communication really is key, and so it’s about time we give it some attention of its very own.
Communication is key
The importance of communication is nothing new, but its continual appearance as a topic in almost all change management literature, both old and new, suggests that it is not always achieved. In fact, throughout our years of providing Business Improvement training, coaching and consultancy, we have seen first hand just how many companies expose their initiatives to failure by neglecting the vital aspect of internal communication.
Undervaluing communication when it comes to making any change is dangerous. Support and buy-in cannot be achieved without communication and (in the unlikely event that it is) when the time comes to initiate the change, no one will know what or why they are doing it. This leads to confusion, frustration, and an inevitable reversion to the old ways.
Just like all physical aspects of your change initiative, it is essential that your communication is planned and well considered, to ensure it is effective as possible.
Effective internal communication
It is time to overcome the misconception that transferring information, whether verbal or written, is communication. Simply sending out emails, holding meetings, and telling your team what needs to happen does not mean you can tick the communication box and continue getting on with enforcing the change.
Communication, particularly to your colleagues, peers and employees, is a much more intricate than that, which is why miscommunication is so common. Of course, its primary purpose is to transfer information and tell people what is happening, but to do this effectively, all the other delicate details must be considered.
All communication must be transparent; if teams can see what is going on, they are more likely to understand the need for the change, and therefore embrace the initiative. It is all too easy to alienate individuals with over-complicated language or deter them with attempts to obscure information. For this reason, communication should be clear and honest.
Your internal communications are to those within your organisation and so your tone should be inclusive. It is ‘our’ change initiative and, as such, everyone is privy to information. Organisations that are particularly successful at initiating change often use this as an opportunity to engage people by inviting them to becom part of the process team.
Your communications must be consistent and up to date. In fact, it is best to start sharing information and opening up conversations before your improvement team has even started. This affords everyone time to prepare themselves emotionally, sharing and then working through their concerns, all of which will ultimately reduce the risk of resistance during the actual
From the initial communication, and throughout, the updates must be maintained and regular. Schedule your communications and keep in touch, whether through the form of newsletters, emails or presentations. This will keep the team united, motivated and focused on continuing towards the change.
Positive communication is the most powerful tools to reduce the fear and anxiety that change can often cause. This positivity can be portrayed through your language and tone, whether written or spoken. For example, instead of discussing the change as a necessity due to how bad the current systems are, explain the change to the systems as an opportunity to build on current success.
This positivity will naturally make its way into your communications if you maintain the mindset that your change initiative is simply another way in which your organisation is developing and growing. Any changes made are not a punishment or reflection of poor current performance, and certainly should not be a cause for concern. You are a forward thinking organisation embarking on a journey towards continuous improvement.
This may seem a lot to consider, but with the role of communication playing such a vital part to the success of your change initiative, it is important that it is afforded the time and effort it requires. Manx Telecom is a fantastic example of doing communication right. Since starting their journey with us earlier this May, with the aim to build on their current success through Business Improvement, their understanding of the value of communication has been undeniable.
Before beginning their DMAIC process, they had already introduced the upcoming initiative and followed up shortly with a newsletter update detailing their intended steps and inviting conversation. With such clear, regular, and transparent communications encouraging involvement from the entire organisation, we are certain Manx Telecom will reap the rewards of all their efforts.
If you have your own success story of managing internal communications, or perhaps even a cautionary tale of when communication has gone wrong, share your experiences by commenting below.