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February 13, 2012 / mike54martin

Communicating for Change

One of the most important aspects of change management is to get the employees on board with the proposed change or reorganization. And if you can’t get everybody with you at the beginning then you need a critical mass of the staff with you or else instead of reorganization you will have rebellion.

To get to that point almost all of the energy of senior managers has to be harnessed and placed in the service of one goal: communication. There will always be resistance to change and this resistance can turn toxic for both the change and the organization. But a good communication plan can be the antidote to that lurking poison and put the employees and the organization back on track.

Tell them the Truth

Senior managers need to be out of the executive suite and into the cubicles and lunch rooms to listen to their employee’s concerns. People are likely to be anxious about the change and may be worried about their own jobs. If there are going to be cutbacks or layoffs or people moved then tell them exactly what you know. Managers should tell people the truth because it will come out anyway. And if you don’t tell them they will just make it up and then blame you for not telling them.

Tell them Why

Employees deserve an explanation and the communications plan should have speaking notes for senior managers and supervisors so that they can tell employees why this change is necessary and why it is being made. And so that they can answer the questions that employees will ask. This is not a one-way exchange of information and what the employees tell the managers or the questions they ask may be crucial to the success of the change process. Maybe the senior managers have missed something or made a miscalculation. All questions should be answered even if sometimes the answer is no.

Focus on the Upside

There’s always an upside. Even though there may be upset and dispersal and removal and chaos the organization has made a decision to change because it hopes that this change will make things better. This may mean just stopping the bleeding or it may mean new product lines or expansion but it will hopefully bring improvements that will make the company stronger for the future. After giving employees the bad news that some of them or their colleagues may be let go it is just as important to tell those who will remain that their jobs will be safer and their opportunities increased as a result of the change. Fear is a poor motivator. Hope is much better.

This article originally appeared on my blog at


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