It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
- Charles Darwin, Origin of Species.
Frequent communication is the biggest driver of organizational change management success. If you think about it, communications - emails, PowerPoints, internal newsletters, online communities, videos, posters, informational meetings, and more - is the real heart of organizational change management. Good or bad, people want to know what is going on in the organization - and they want to know frequently and consistently. One or two randomly timed emails during a change process is not enough - not nearly enough.
A corporate reorganization doesn’t have to create chaos, but many do when there is no clear plan for communicating with employees and other stakeholders early, often, and over an extended period. This is the assertion of the insightful and reflective article, Reorganization without tears, a recent McKinsey Quarterly perspective, which breaks the reorganization struggle down to the importance of employee and stakeholder communications.
Essentially, it is important to get employees and stakeholders actively engaged in the process of a corporate reorganization or other change initiatives as early in the process as possible - by communicating effectively and frequently the drivers of change, the process of change and the benefits change will bring to the organization.
Remember, organizational change is a time for anxiousness, fear, and the biggest threat to effective change management ... rumors.
According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS) , a non-profit organization which imparts information on stress reduction, stress in the workplace, effects of stress and various other stress-related topics, numerous studies show that workplace stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades.
What causes workplace stress? According to the AIS, increased levels of job stress are triggered by the perception of having little control over a situation or change, but increasing demands. Numerous surveys and studies confirm that occupational pressures and fears are far and away the leading source of stress for American workers and that these have steadily increased over the past few decades.
Organizational change affects employees differently.
While some employees and stakeholders embrace organizational change, others do not, growing apprehensive and stressed at the start of a change process. Communicating frequently helps to usher in confidence throughout both employee and stakeholder ranks.
The greatest drivers of organizational change for an enterprise are its people. It is the people within an organization that will carry and turn into reality the organization's vision for change. When forming a communications strategy to support organizational change, keep these points in mind:
- The ideal approach to creating an effective communications strategy includes analyzing communication needs, planning communications, developing effective communication engagements and evaluating the effectiveness of communications efforts - all of which comprise a healthy outlook when it comes to engaging employees in accepting organizational change.
- Educational communications designed to inform and prepare potential users create and sustain workforce acceptance and adoption - thanks to a solid understanding of goals, objectives, benefits and enterprise-wide value.
- Promotional communications designed to market the project and its benefits are vital links in sustaining employee engagement, as well as encouraging change acceptance and support.
- An enterprise needs to know who its employees are, their level of impacts and how much support will be necessary to help them transition. Consider aligning change management measures closely with internal project teams to facilitate a smooth transition and successful adoption of organizational change.
- Last, keep communications short and concise. Nobody wants to read a bunch of filler information. In addition, don’t have too many different topics in a communication. It is often difficult for people to digest a large amount of information, especially when changing from one subject to another. For best results, keep it consistent, short and to the point.