As a leader do you ever wish there was a secret formula that would make it a little easier to implement change? A strategy that would remove some of the stress for you and your team? If you’re tired of the headache that comes with leading an organizational change, big or small, I have some good news for you. The secret to a seamless change process is over-communication.
This sounds simple, but it is so important! One of the CEOs that I work with and have great admiration for will frequently say when she thinks she’s communicated enough, she knows it’s time to communicate more.
The point that she’s trying to convey is when you have communicated as much as you think is needed, you’ve only just begun.
I believe in over-communication and strive to be an over-communicator. I find this especially beneficial when it comes to change initiatives.
I believe that the time we invest in connecting with each other—sharing why we need to change, and what actions we are taking, and verifying the team understands the change initiative—all these things are critically important to successful change initiatives.
Why Over-Communicate During Change? 5 Reasons
There are five main benefits I have observed when it comes to over-communication during a change effort.
Whether I was implementing a new multi-billion dollar contract or a smaller change initiative, I saw these five benefits every time (and believe you will too, in your next change endeavor):
- Your people will feel recognized, valued, and included. This leads to a deeper understanding of what’s going on and a greater likelihood of positive response to the change efforts.
- Your people will feel secure. This is so important when it comes to change. The security that comes from over-communication reassures people that this is not happening to them, but rather that they are a part of the change, and have some control.
- Your team will be on board. By filling your team in on the change details (both big and small), and creating multiple opportunities for dialogue regarding the impact for them, you exponentially increase team alignment and investment in the change.
- Your team will be prepared. The more information you provide your team, the better prepared they will be (and the more seamless the change is).
- You will mitigate risk and prevent problems. By making it easy for your team to tell you how the change effort is going, you will learn about problems as they arise and can intervene before they become more serious.
8 Ways to Over-Communicate to Your Team
- Communicate consistently (and frequently) during a change initiative, whether that’s every day, every week, or every month. Depending on the scale and the length of the change, and communication method, set consistent patterns so people know when to expect more information.
- Use multiple methods of communication, including chat groups, videos, email, and written communication. People have different patterns of taking information in (or ways it’s easier to take in information), so employ multiple media and multiple methods. If you use a platform to stay connected like Slack or Microsoft Teams, use those; take advantage of the existing communication patterns.
- Include some in-person or live virtual communication to facilitate dialogue. If you’re in the early stages or you’re problem-solving, include brainstorming sessions. Bring in your key stakeholders and get their opinions, not only in planning the changes, but in understanding how the change is going to have an impact on daily operations (and most importantly, for your stakeholders).
- Provide real time and frequent support. Change carries some risk. You can help mitigate this risk by providing training and live support during the go-live phase of change. Verify that people understand the change and have the tools and support they need. Examples of this could be having brief tactical meetings to get updates and answer questions; following up with employees who express concern; having someone walk the floor (in a call center for example); having someone available via chat or text.
- Frequently check in with people involved to ascertain their understanding of the change, and offer needed support. Make sure they have everything they need to succeed and adjust accordingly as you’re moving through the change initiative.
- Invest the resources in communication. Make sure that communication is built in to your action plan. Assign parties to maintain documentation about decisions made, status of actions, and overall project communication.
- Loop back frequently with your different stakeholders as things change. As any adjustments are made, make sure they know about the shifts. Take the time to thank everyone involved for their hard work and contributions. Remember to bring food – it makes a difference!
Start Over-Communicating Today!
I’m a believer in over communication and I recommend you consider adopting this belief (if you haven’t already). As you embrace this concept, it can be helpful to examine how you go about it and find opportunities to carry through. If you think you’re communicating enough, I’ll bet you can communicate just a little bit more for a successful end (as we all can).
Your investment in over communicating with any change initiative will pay off! So I invite you to get started today!