Leading Change – Announcing your change!

Transactional Model of Communication

For a significant organizational change, you should develop a communications plan.

It should cover;

  • What you wish to accomplish in communicating the change,
  • Your audience – how they are feeling, what they are expecting and how are they likely to react through the process,
  • Your key messages, strategy and tactics,
  • When you are going to communicate – your activity schedule,
  • How you will measure the results – how will you know that your message is getting across!

You can find guidance on preparing your plan at this link.

Prepare well for the announcement.  Be aware of your own feelings about the change. If you feel anxious take a little time out beforehand to relax – there is a simple breathing technique to help you at this link.

When you can, help your staff prepare for bad news.  But combine all of this with being scrupulously fair.  They will know if you play the favourites game or take the opportunity to pay off old scores when you are laying people off or reducing hours.  You will lose good will and that special contribution you need from those who stay.

In making your announcement, be as honest as you can and above all be fair.

Tell them the real position if you can, but also tell them what you are doing about it.  Tell them why the change is happening and what has led up to this point. Be as honest as you can about the risks but don’t threaten your organization with your honesty – it’s a fine judgment call.  Be careful of your language, don’t mislead them but limit your use of negative and emotive words.

You may not have all the answers at the beginning of the change.  Be honest about the gaps but be very clear about how you will go about filling them

Make sure they understand that you will keep them informed.

If they have a role, explain that role to them.  Involve them as much as you can in the change. How can they contribute?

Show confidence in their ability to get out of their comfort zone and do what has not been done before!  Challenge them to achieve something remarkable but don’t be unrealistic!

Make sure they leave the room knowing how they can ask questions after the event.

If you have a management team forearm them with as much briefing material as you can and make sure there is access to you for further information

Above all show how you are going to lead and support them through this change.  You are all in it together!

I would welcome your thoughts and hearing about your experiences.  I am very happy to answer your questions and advise you if I can.

  • Leading Change – bad advice and frightening people! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • LeaderBrief Q&A: Core Leadership Skills (linked2leadership.com)


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)786768143

MANAGING CHANGE – COMMUNICATIONS – MAKING YOUR PLAN

A recent post talked about building and maintaining active support for your initiative among those who can make a real difference to your outcomes! This is imperative for change programmes and projects.

Making sure that your colleagues and key stakeholders are aware of the activities you are undertaking, is vital to ensure your success. It helps to maximise opportunities for synergies,  allows people to learn from each other and wins you support.

When you have analysed the people and groups around you, you will be ready to develop your communications plan.

A communications plan is a written document that describes

  • what you want to accomplish with your communications (your objectives),
  • to whom your communications will be addressed (your audiences)
  • the ways in which those objectives can be accomplished (your key messages, strategy and tactics)
  • when you will accomplish your objectives (your activity schedule),
  • how you will measure the results (your evaluation)

Keep it simple. Your communications plan doesn’t need to be pages long – just clearly presented and easy to understand.

Make it focussed. Don’t try to do everything, be realistic about what’s achievable.

Every communications plan will be different but most should include the following key information.

Objectives

Be clear from the outset about what you are trying to achieve – it is the vital first step in creating your plan.

When considering your communications objectives, ensure that they complement the overall objectives of your initiative.

Make sure your objectives are SMART

Are they:

  • Specific?
  • Measurable?
  • Achievable?
  • Realistic?
  • Timely?

Target Audience

This is where the work you have done already to identify your stakeholders comes into play. The success of any communications activity depends on knowing your audience.

Once you have identified your target find out as much as possible about them.  This will help you to ensure you are using the most effective routes to communicate with them.

Once you’ve got an initial list, try to identify some overall priorities.  This will help you ensure that the majority of your time, energy and resources are concentrated on the most important audiences.

Key Messages

Once you have identified your target audience, think about what messages you are trying to communicate.

Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of your overall plans? You can download a template for a SWOT analysis at this link. See how you can turn your weaknesses and threats into strengths and opportunities even before you begin your communications plan.

Developing key messages will help you to be clear about what it is you want your target audience to ‘hear’ or understand as a result of your communications activity. The messages may well be different for each of your target audience groups, although there will be many that are common for all.

Avoid statements that are too complex. Cutting the waffle and aiming to be as succinct as possible is the best way to create messages that work. A good way to try your messages out is to see if they pass the ‘elevator test’. Imagine you are in a lift between floors and only have a minute to explain your message to a companion beside you. Would they understand what you are trying to say?

Strategy

Now you are ready to consider the overall strategic approach that you are going to take to achieve your communications objectives. Your strategy should be about what you are going to do to achieve your objectives, rather than how you are going to do it.

The strategy provides a unifying ‘big picture’ into which all of your individual communications activities fit. For, example, are you going to actively engage with your key stakeholders at regular intervals? Perhaps you are going to promote the achievements through your company websites or will you publish a regular newsletter!

Set out the principles of how you intend to communicate!

Tactics

The tactics are the specific communications activities, tools and techniques that will make each part of your strategy a reality. Some of the most popular include:

  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Information packs
  • Seminars
  • Leaflets, stickers and posters
  • Websites and social networking/blogs
  • Videos/DVDs
  • Advertising
  • One-to-one briefings
  • Direct mail/email
  • Exhibitions

The communications activities you choose should fit into your overall strategy and be driven by your objectives, target audiences and key messages.

Budgeting and other resources

How much money do you have available in the budget? How much time and other resources do you have available?  The answers will dictate the size and scale of your communications activity.

If you find yourself having to cope on a shoestring, remember that it is possible to do effective work with a small budget as long as you are realistic and well focussed.

Keep in mind your key stakeholders.

Activity schedule

Once you have decided on your tactics you will be in position to put together a simple activity schedule. This should outline how you plan to roll out each set of activities over a period of time.

Make sure you think carefully about other key dates or events that may impact on your timing and the milestones in your overall activity. At this stage you should also consider specific roles and responsibilities. It is useful to circulate your communications activity schedule to your colleagues so they can see what is coming up and identify potential synergies or conflicts at an early stage.

Evaluation

It is crucial that your activity plan outlines the criteria that you will use to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your communications activities.

How will you know if you are making an impact? Build into your plan a method for measuring results. Your evaluation might take the form of a monthly report on work in progress – a formalized writtens report or a presentation to the governance board, the programme team or another management meeting.

Remember – communicate clearly and simply – be honest!

Start early and make sure people know where and how to get access to good information.

But one warning, if you have promised any particular communication, for example, a monthly newsletter, make sure it is actually produced on time and has good quality of information!  Nothing is more frustrating than something that doesn’t arrive or looks good but doesn’t actually tell you anything about an initiative that impacts directly on you!

If you are just setting out on a change, and have not done this before, I hope this helps.

If you have any questions or if you have experience and tips to offer, I would love to hear from you.

Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy –  she can help you – email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439