Effective Communication – Key to Change Management

Two stick figure businessmen engaging in business communication.

You cannot over communicate when you are asking people to change. Every leader shares this sentiment. Effective communication is a critical skill all managers must have and it’s one of the most challenging issues for managers. Keep the tips listed below in mind when communicating change to employees.

  • Start with yourself. Make sure you fully understand the changes that are occurring and the impact they will have so you can provide substantive information versus jargon.
  • Communicate consistently, frequently, and through multiple channels about the change.
  • Communicate all that is known about the change as quickly as information is available. When individuals feel like they are out of the loop, anxiety rises and they start to make up their own stories, usually more negative than the truth.
  • Provide ample time and space for employees to ask questions, request clarification, and provide input.
  • Clearly communicate “what” the change is but also the “why” behind the change. Help people understand how the changes will impact their lives and why the change is important for the team, the unit and the university.
  • Recognize that true communicate is a conversation. It’s a dialogue between two people where real discussion and listening takes place. It is not a presentation by the manager.
  • Provide answers to the questions only if you have an accurate answer. Managers will lose credibility if incorrect answers are provided. It’s much better to be honest and admit you don’t know the answer but that you will try to find out. Then make sure you follow-up with the correct answer.
  • Communication should be proactive. Don’t wait until the rumor mill is in action before you begin communicating.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to network with each other, both formally and informally, to share ideas about the change and change management in general.

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