Transformational Change:  Finding ๐Ÿ†• Ways to Communicate Radical Change

Posted by Paula Alsher on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 @ 11:31 AM

Everyone knows communication during change is important. But, when youโ€™re talking about transformational change it becomes imperative.  In fact, in our 30 โž• years of working on transformation projects in multiple industries including ๐Ÿข and ๐Ÿฅ, we have yet to come across a client who has ever over-communicated during transformational change.  Itโ€™s also absolutely essential that your communication provide the psychological cues that this is radical change! New Ways to Communicate Change

So, what are the best ways to ๐Ÿ“ข?  Is it just about coming up with an ๐Ÿ“ง campaign and a project ๐Ÿ’ป?  Based on our experiences in the change management industry, weโ€™ve come up with the helpful tips ๐Ÿ‘‡ on how to communicate your Transformational Change.


โœ… Communicate Early โฐ, Communicate Often โณ

Unfortunately, all too often there is a tendency to wait until all the information is available before sending out communications. But the vacuum created by ๐Ÿšซ communication reinforces the ๐Ÿ˜ฑ of the unknown, which can generate resistance.  On the other hand, if all you do is communicate, and do nothing else, you may also generate more resistance.  Why?  Because people will sense that there is nothing Transformational about how you are implementing this change!  No psychological cue that this change is indeed different.

So, at the beginning of the project, it is important to set the expectation that there will be regular communication that is credible and comprehensive.  If you donโ€™t have all the โ„น๏ธ readily available, tell people what you do know, and what you don't know.  Let people know that you will come back often as more information becomes available. Because some information > no information at all! ๐Ÿ‘

Continuing to communicate is just as important as the original message.  Use frequent ๐Ÿ” of messages throughout the lifecycle of the change using different words and different examples. Then โœ”๏ธ your communication to ensure you are on ๐ŸŽฏ.


โœ… Communication Should Not Come Only From ๐Ÿ” Getting an email from a high-level executive about the โ€œwonderful rationaleโ€ of a change is an all too common occurrence in organizations today. Many leaders simply believe if they send an email to the organization explaining the change, new behaviors will magically appear and there will be no resistance, ๐Ÿ˜‚.  But, the fact is, resistance to change isn't logical and you will never combat it by communicating elegant messages from the top.  In reality, the ๐Ÿ”‘ to behavior change is the reinforcement by managers, not a โœ๏ธmessage. In Transformational Change in particular, there is an extremely high level of disruption, so resistance should be anticipated rather than hoping communication will combat or eliminate it entirely!


โœ… Use โ€œTarget Specificโ€ Communication

All communications need to be targeted and audience-specific. In other words, it must be translated into the Frame of Reference of the Targets, not the Frame of Reference of top managers. All communication must address the 2 most important โ“s from a Targetโ€™s point of view:


  • โ€œWhatโ€™s in it for me?โ€
  • โ€œWhat does it mean to me?โ€


And needless to say, different Target groups will have different answers to those questions!

The type of language used in your communications matters and should be different for different Target groups.  For example, are the targets Millennials?  Thereโ€™s a good chance that they may be as this group of young ๐Ÿ‘ฉ ๐Ÿ‘ฑ ๐Ÿ‘จ is quickly becoming the largest generation in the current workforce.  Millennials are very familiar with communication styles and โค๏ธ to use ๐ŸŽ‰, casual messages.  So, while it may not be appropriate in every workplace culture, the use of Emojis in some workplace communications might be worth a try in others! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 


โœ… Donโ€™t Rely ONLY on Email

Generally speaking, the average ๐Ÿ•ด gets more than 5๏ธโƒฃ 0๏ธโƒฃ emails a ๐Ÿ“†.  This fact alone makes it very difficult for emails to have much of an impact. Think of it like this... no one will change what they are currently doing solely because an email has gone out saying they should!

Instead, use a variety of communication methods such as:  

๐Ÿ“Œ Small Group Sessions

๐Ÿ“Œ One-on-One Meetings

๐Ÿ“Œ Focus Groups

๐Ÿ“Œ Surveys ๐Ÿ“‹

๐Ÿ“Œ Team Meetings

๐Ÿ“Œ Hot Lines โ˜Ž๏ธ

๐Ÿ“Œ Social Media

Remember, even in todayโ€™s ๐Ÿ“ฑ -driven world, ๐Ÿ‘ฆ-to-๐Ÿ‘ง discussion remains the most powerful method for communication. To that end, find as many ways as possible to meet either in small groups or in one-on-one sessions with the Targets of the change.  Even if that is by necessity done virtually.


โœ… All Communication Should Include a Feedback Loop

During a change, communications need to be sent through a variety of means, and must always provide a feedback loop. Feedback loops are crucial in order to allow individuals to express their thoughts and feelings about the change.  And, itโ€™s a perfect way for Change Agents to gather information about any potential sources of resistance.


Caution Ahead ๐Ÿ–

A word of caution for those of you who are ๐Ÿƒ out right now to plan your communications for your Transformation.  While creating a Communication Plan for a Transformational Change is extremely important... it is not enough!  Donโ€™t mistake a Communication Plan for an Implementation Plan.  ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Communication is definitely an important area to plan for, but it needs to be integrated with the other elements in implementing organizational change such as Defining the Change, Generating Sponsorship, Creating Readiness and Developing a Reinforcement Strategy, all key elements of the Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM).  


So, now that youโ€™ve ๐Ÿ‘€ our attempt at communicating in a new wayโ€ฆweโ€™d๐Ÿ’• to ๐Ÿ‘‚ how you are going to transform yours.  Ready. Set. Go! ๐Ÿš€

 Free eBook: Overcome the Challenge of Transformational Change

Topics: Transformational Change, Communication