Six keys to improving your change management communications

Written by
Ivan Pierce
March 8, 2024

Change is inevitable, whether it's a shift in strategy, a reorganisation, or adapting to new technologies. As stewards of the people within organisations, HR leaders know all too well the challenges that come with managing change. But fear not, because the secret weapon in your arsenal is none other than effective internal communications. 

First things first, let's talk about the why behind prioritising internal communications during times of change. 

Effective communication is the lifeblood of any organisation, serving as the connective tissue that binds employees together and aligns them with the organisation's goals and vision. During periods of change, clear and consistent communication becomes even more critical. It helps alleviate fears and uncertainties, builds trust, and fosters a sense of belonging and commitment among employees. By prioritising internal communications, you create a supportive and transparent environment where employees feel valued, informed, and empowered to navigate change alongside you.

The savvy reader will also be aware that ‘poor organisational change management’ is one of the Psychosocial Hazards named in WHS Code of Practice. This highlights the potential risks of getting it wrong both in terms of impact on your people and the Regulator’s expectations of your organisation. In a recent employee survey Exsona completed for a client, their several thousand employees rated change management one of the lowest scoring items, indicating even mature organisations still have some work to do.

So, let's explore some top tips on how to communicate change messages better:

1. Be Transparent: Transparency breeds trust. When communicating change, be open and honest about the reasons behind the change, the expected impact, and the timeline. Address any concerns or questions upfront, and be proactive in providing updates throughout the process. By keeping employees in the loop, you demonstrate respect for their intelligence and build credibility as a trusted leader or organisation.

2. Tailor Your Message: One size does not fit all when it comes to communication. Different employees have different communication preferences and information needs. Take the time to understand your audience and tailor your message accordingly. Use a variety of channels and formats to reach employees where they are, whether it's through email, town hall meetings, or informal chats. Personalise your communication to make it relevant and relatable to each individual.

3. Empathise and Listen: Change can be unsettling, and employees may experience a range of emotions, from excitement to anxiety. Show empathy and compassion for their concerns, and create opportunities for two-way dialogue. Listen actively to their feedback, address their questions and concerns, and involve them in the decision-making process whenever possible. By demonstrating that you value their input, you build trust and buy-in for the change initiatives.

4. Provide Context and Clarity: Help employees understand the bigger picture behind the change. Provide context for why the change is necessary, how it aligns with the organisation's goals, and what it means for them personally. Break down complex information into bite-sized chunks, and use clear and concise language that everyone can understand. Avoid jargon and acronyms that may confuse or alienate employees.

5. Celebrate Successes and Milestones: Change is a journey, not a destination. Along the way, celebrate successes and milestones to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of your employees. Recognise individuals and teams for their contributions, and highlight positive outcomes and achievements. By celebrating progress, you foster a culture of resilience and positivity that fuels momentum for future change efforts.

6. Lead by Example: As HR leaders, your actions speak louder than words. Lead by example by embodying the values and behaviours you want to see in others. Demonstrate openness, adaptability, and resilience in the face of change, and be visible and accessible to employees. Show that you're willing to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to support your team through the challenges of change.

By prioritising internal communications and following these top tips, you can effectively navigate change and steer your organisation towards success. Remember, change is not always easy, but with clear and consistent communication, you can inspire confidence, build trust, and empower your employees to embrace the opportunities that change brings.

So, HR leaders, are you ready to harness the power of effective internal communications to navigate the winds of change?  At Exsona, this is one of our key areas of expertise. So please reach out to see how we can support your communication journey.