Communicating during organisational change

Jan 30, 2017 | Good Management

Regardless of the size of the employer, organisational change is always fraught with potential difficult and anxiety for employees involved (and also those who aren’t necessarily involved). Uncertainty and disruption can be upsetting and demotivating.

For that reason, good employee communication at these times is even more vital. Keeping people in the loop and providing them with accurate information as early as possible will help to avoid anxiety among employees by reducing the uncertainty about what the changes could involve, and providing answers to inevitable questions.

With that in mind, here are some tips for communicating well during organisational change.

Be as open and honest as possible

Clearly it is not always going to be possible to tell employees absolutely everything, but the more open you can be about what’s happening, the less uncertainty, speculation, gossiping and anxiety there will be. This includes clearly communicating the reasons for the proposed changes.

Consult in good time

For some types of change formal consultation is required, but even when it isn’t, informal consultation is often sensible, to engage employees in the change and give them the opportunity to feel their concerns and suggestions are being heard. Doing this in plenty of time will reduce the likelihood of employees feeling you are just- box-ticking’ and have no intention of taking their views into account before making a final decision.

Ensure managers show confidence in the change

Regardless of line managers’ personal views, it is essential that they are supportive of the proposed change, representing the organisation’s point of view and doing nothing to undermine the process. Any line manager indicating personal dissatisfaction with what’s happening, or indicating that they disagree with senior management’s views or actions can be enormously damaging.

Support the employees through the change

Line managers should also ensure they provide every opportunity for staff to express concerns or worries they may have, and provide appropriate support. It’s vital to understand that change can be difficult and that the process will run smoother if team members feel they are supported.

Anticipate reactions

When preparing presentations or getting ready for meetings, don’t just think about the information you want to communicate, spend some time thinking about what questions will be asked. The more answers you can give straight away, the less uncertainty and speculation there will be, and the more comfortable employees will feel when going away from that first meeting.

You could have the answers to anticipated questions ready, or address likely concerns as part of his or her initial presentation. A FAQ document is also a good option, allowing employees time to read and digest the likely queries they will have, and ensuring all staff have exactly the same answers to those common questions.

Ensure consistent communication

Unless everyone in the organisation is being told in one meeting, it’s essential to ensure that the messages being delivered are consistent across employees and teams. This will reduce uncertainty and the likelihood of misunderstandings or misinformation.

Change is always challenging, but open, honest, consistent and reassuring communication throughout the process will reduce disruption and anxiety, facilitating a smooth transition and enabling your organisation to more quickly refocus on its goals and objectives.

If you’d like more information about how you can maintain good communication with employees during organisational change do get in touch.