Communicating Change: Be Prepared

Organizational change is often high on the list of corporate business agendas. Businesses are going digital and have been evolving in this direction for the past 20 years. Change may not be the goal, but it is certainly a planned outcome.

Business strategies typically include goals around cost efficiency, greater customer-centric focus, increased revenues through consolidation or unlocking value through spin-offs, to name a few. Deploying major technology upgrades or new cloud-based applications, ERP platforms, and other major IT projects also need big change management oversight, training and communications. Most technical and organizational change is driven by strong leaders who have a vision to improve business agility, responsiveness to market volatility, bottom-line profitability, and other important advancements. These transformations generally take time to implement successfully. Best laid plans, the team ramp-up, the appropriate technological solutions to meet the goals are generally the higher-cost, higher-visibility activities that are determined, designed and delivered during the early phases.

Communications and training must also have a place at the table during the planning stage. There is no utility in waiting until the final stretch of any multi-year organizational or technical change to bring in the communications and training teams. They should be involved almost immediately. Why? Because being prepared is the best way to manage change. Preparing your employees to understand the value of the planned transformation is not about just sending a single email and hoping everyone accepts it

Successful change management requires a solid content strategy that centers on defining the key internal and external stakeholders who will be impacted. Knowing your audience, understanding their concerns, worries, individual goals and how their roles will be impacted by the change takes time, effort and trust. Building relationships with key audiences, also called stakeholders, is a critical communication effort that needs to take place in the early stages of any major transformation.

Change management is all about people. Yes, it involves technology, processes and a range of functional expertise from inside and outside the organization to realize its value. But the people are key. They need to understand why, who, what, where when and how the change will be implemented and the impacts it will bring to their daily responsibilities and long-term careers. To varying degrees, certain of the employees may need more involvement, cajoling, explaining, action, training and overall customer service from the change management team.

Centralized, digital communications are a necessity — a critical success factor. Pointing people to downloadable materials and watchable video resources via a central online platform, accessible 24/7, so they can read, watch, absorb at their own pace, is a best practice in communicating change. Understanding the culture of the company and then navigating the IT and technical teams to agree to publishing more creative, engaging content can be a challenge, but it doesn’t need to be a barrier. That’s where the rubber meets the road: associates must be aware, engaged and involved throughout the change journey to ensure the transformation reverberates – otherwise, what’s the point? It’s always about the People, the Processes and he Technology, and yet change leaders often think about People last.

Change needs to be adopted into the business culture, and this takes time and planning. Communications and training are not afterthoughts. Planning with dedicated teams to design communications that inform and engage people early on, with base-level training, will help any change management program go much more smoothly. Engage with experts who know how to adapt business and change management strategies into solid infrastructure to inform, engage and encourage employees to embrace widespread adoption of new transformational initiatives.

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