Change Communication: In Truth We Trust

Change is good, but it's also scary, particularly in the workplace. Changes in benefits, business model, leadership and staffing can be landmines for companies and organizations if not communicated properly. The two must-haves for successful change communications are truth and trust and you can't have one without the other.Being open and truthful about what is changing and how it will impact employees, members, customers, etc., is the key to gaining trust. Your particular audience might not like what they hear, but they will be more apt to listen if you're delivering straight talk and not sugarcoated spin.Truth and trust must be carefully managed throughout the change communications process, because if either are lost, rumors, misinformation and suspicion will fill the void.If your organization is preparing to communicate an upcoming change, here are a few tips to help you tell your change story:

  • Communicate from the top, at first. Delivering information about change is often left to the human resources department. But while HR staff can be incredibly effective messengers, clear and thoughtful communication from the C suite can help get people to listen and trust.
  • Tell the "Why." According to Results Map, the number one cause of resistance to change is a lack of understanding the "why." If you want people to buy into change, you need to give them an honest, fact-based rationale for why it needs to happen.
  • Explain how employees will be impacted. The first question many employees ask when they hear about change is "what does this mean for me?" When communicating change, always acknowledge that you understand how difficult change can be and then be as direct as you can be about what this means for employees, both good and bad. Sharing step-by-step detail about when and how it will happen may not ease all minds, but a heads-up about what to expect and when can help reduce anxiety.
  • Keep multiple lines of communication open. Once a change is announced, it's important to maintain the lines of communication so that employees can ask questions and voice their opinions. Communications should include regular updates about the change process to a mass audience, such as through email or an intranet, but also avenues for individuals to share their thoughts privately, such as one-to-one meetings, a drop box for questions and concerns, or direct email communications.