How to Tailor your Message so that it Resonates across your Organization
Communication needs to be driven from the top-down AND the bottom up, ensuring your change initiative messages are clearly and properly conveyed.
In their book, the Change Management Pocket Guide: Tools for Managing Change, Kate Nelson and Stacy Aaron* refer to two “levels” of communication needed to garner buy-in from across the company. Their point (and it’s a good one) is that messages need to be tailored to specific departments or individuals and that you need to get away from a “one-size fits all” plan.
Start by tailoring your messages (i.e., Level One and Level Two Communications) to those departments most affected by your change initiative. This methodology will ensure you’re addressing those issues most critical to the department and can also be used when targeting key stakeholders to support your initiative.
To help get you started, I’ve recreated their worksheet on my website so you can finalize your communication plan.
Meanwhile, keep in mind the following when speaking with line managers and employees:
Line managers are critical because they…
- Are directly responsible for the implementation of your initiative.
- Have a pulse on employee morale and can combat negativity.
Ensure line managers…
- Thoroughly understand the goals and are committed to accomplishing them.
- Understand they are a part of the solution to ensure the Company’s survival.
- Are trained on how to engage and obtain commitment from their employees.
Employees are critical because …
- They are responsible for executing your initiative.
- Their individual goals facilitate the success of overall organizational goals.
Help your employees to…
- Re-focus on achieving company goals and how the change initiative will help the company overcome the challenging economy.
- Make the link between achieving their individual goals and the company’s future success.
When attempting to overcome resistance from employees, keep in mind:
It’s all in what you say. Keep it short and chunk your messages. Eliminate the technical jargon. Don’t ignore setbacks or changes to the plan. Face them head-on and explain your decisions.
And HOW you say it. Ensure communications are a two-way street, so your employees feel heard. To gather feedback, consider using surveys or message boards on your intranet.
And HOW OFTEN you say it. Over-communicating your message stifles rumors and combats the natural fear of the unknown. You’ll re-iterate the need for change while keeping the pressure on your project team and employees to get the job done.
And saying it CONSISTENTLY, over time. Continually tout the initiative and employee successes. Communication is something you need to sustain throughout the course of the project and beyond, affirming change as a part of your corporate culture.
By crafting a solid plan that resonates with employees and communicating your message often and consistently over time, you’ll ensure that your sound project plan and well-managed team drive a successful change initiative within your organization.
*Reference: The Change Management Pocket Guide: Tools for Managing Change by Kate Nelson and Stacy Aaron, 2005.