Importance of Communication in Change Management

For implementing a change program successfully, communication is the key and one of the most complex parameters as it involves an exchange of ideas and feelings with people in an organization through various mediums. It is one of the toughest issues which an organization is faced with during the entire process of implementation of change. Effective communication must involve the following components:

  • The message which is being sent by the individual must be clear and vividly presented. The message must radiate authenticity and genuinity.

  • The recipient of the message must listen attentively, ask questions for clarifications and share feedback on the interpretation of the message.

  • The method of delivery of the message must be compatible with the circumstances of both the sender of the message as well as the recipient.

  • The message content must be able to connect well with the beliefs and thoughts of the recipient for being able to be acceptable.

In any change management program, it is the people who are fundamentally being affected by the change initiatives and it is the people who extend their cooperation and support to make the change happen. Without the involvement and motivation of the key stakeholders, it is impossible to expect success from any change program, as it is them whose interests are either positively or negatively affected due to the change initiatives.

The stakeholders’ involvement, commitment, and acceptance in the entire change process is very important for achieving successful results from the change management program. For this, the stakeholders must be made well informed about the purpose or the objectives of change, and they should be provided an opportunity to share their own ideas in the process of implementation of a change program.

Research has proven that if a change is implemented in a consultative and an open manner it results in much effective outcomes in the overall process.

The Purpose of Change Communication

Research has proven that in the absence of a proper communication plan, the entire change process may turn into a fiasco. Overcommunication or no communication are both undesirable as due to this the whole effort of change can be derailed.

In the absence of sufficient two-way conversation or effective communication across all the levels, the change effort may fail to meet its objectives. If a communication plan is designed efficiently and clearly, it helps in building awareness and in getting the subsequent support in the entire program.

The communication continuum presented below shows how effective communication influences the stakeholders in building commitment towards the change.

Communication Continuum

The communication plan must be an integral part of the change plan addressing the questions of how, what, when and why of change from the people’s perspective. Like the other documents of planning, the communication plan should also be documented and be subjected to periodic reviews.

The importance of Stakeholder Analysis in Change Process

Stakeholder Analysis can be considered as the foundation tasks before preparing and implementing a communication plan during a change process. The more complex the nature of change is, stakeholder analysis becomes all the more an imperative task as any implementation of change might be subjected to resistance due to one or several reasons from the stakeholders.

Stakeholder analysis helps in minimizing the possible resistance from the participants in the change process by understanding the requirements and expectations of the key stakeholders who are directly or indirectly being affected by the change. Stakeholder analysis can be useful in the following ways:

  • Identifying the key stakeholders or the stakeholder groups as well and their influence on the change.

  • Understanding the prevalent attitudes towards their change and how this may influence the overall process.

  • Identifying the needs of communication and the possible risks involved if the needs are not met.

  • Determining the various methods for communicating the messages as well as the timing of delivery of these messages.

Fundamentals involved in Change Communication

The following factors participate in communicating change approaches successfully:

Communicating the Change Vision Clearly and Doing it Early: This is the most important stage as it involves communicating the vision of change and what the organization will achieve at the end of the change effort. The vision should be described in simple form, must be clear and must be able to influence people strongly in implementing decisions. The earlier the vision for the change is communicated, the easier it will be for the people to be able to adapt and understand the nuances of change.

Highlighting the Benefits and the Impacts of Change: Effective communication plan during a change process helps in controlling the inertia or fears due to a change by explaining how the change will affect the people associated with it and why it is being implemented.

Ensuring that the Leaders of the Organziation actively communicate in the entire process of change: The leaders of the organization must convey how important the change is and must reflect their personal and visible commitment towards the entire process of change, as this will be sending a powerful message to the key stakeholders about how seriously an organization is committed towards the implementation of change.

Using various channels or mediums for communicating the message of change: Care should be taken in understanding how people learn about change from different mediums of communication.

For visual learners, documented materials may best appeal and help them in understanding the change vision and for effective listeners, importance should be given to the presentation style and selection of words for impressing such category of stakeholders.

Providing Opportunities for Exchange of Dialogue or Conversation: Providing opportunities for discussion and facilitating a two-way communication with the stakeholders creates a sense of ownership and fosters a sense of responsibility among the stakeholders.

Repeating the Messages of Change Periodically: Regular communication of the change message facilitates a greater understanding of the objective of the change and there will be a much greater probability that people will act in accordance with the requirements of the changing situation and extend their cooperation accordingly.

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Change Management