How to Develop Your Written Communications Plan
To ensure success, you need to continually hone your communication strategy and anticipate questions throughout your change initiative. Download our Communications Planning Worksheet, which will walk you through the following 7 critical elements to consider when developing your written communications plan:
1. Why is it necessary?
Employees are often left in the dark when it comes to the business reasons behind major change. Showing employees where the business is heading will help them understand the value in your plan. Develop key statements that communicate this value. Your vision should be expressed in a way that allows all employees to understand, relate to and see their role in achieving it. Anticipate questions such as: “Why should we change the process when the current process works just fine?” “Why should I care when the change doesn’t affect me?”
2. What is the precise scope of the change?
Get straight to the point and don’t sugarcoat your message. Communicating the precise scope of your project will end speculation and rumors up front. Show your employees what the organization will look like following the implementation of this change (such as changes in departments or individual rolls.) Anticipate questions like:
“Is it true that my department will be downsized because of this project?”
“How many employees will be hired to create the new department?”
3. When will the change be rolled out?
Official start dates, end dates, key milestones and consequences for not meeting deadlines should be communicated early and continuously. Be clear whether the dates are ‘best guess goals’ or hard deadlines. This will help your employees anticipate when change will happen to them. You may hear questions like:
“What should we do if our department can’t commit to meeting your deadline?”
“What is the penalty for missing deadlines?”
4. Who will be involved and in what capacity?
Identify what responsibilities will be delegated to those directly and indirectly involved with the project, including senior executives and team members championing the project. Employees will know who to contact when have questions later, such as:
“Why should I care if I’m not directly involved?”
“If I’m on the team, how much time will it take from my schedule?”
5. How will the change affect the way employees currently work?
Expect employees to be immediately concerned with how the change affects their day-to-day work and longer-term circumstances. Alleviate employee fear by explaining how you expect the change to affect them. Then, listen up. Employees may have concerns that you haven’t addressed, such as: “How can I take on extra work when I’m already overwhelmed with my duties?” “How quickly will my duties change over time?”
6. How will this change initiative differ from previous ones within the organization?
Every organization has faced an initiative that didn’t get off the ground. Recognize this and show employees how your initiative differs by linking it to previous successes. Consider how perceptions of previous initiatives will affect the attitude toward yours, such as: “What were the results of project X?” “How will this differ from the project we worked on last year?”
7. What are the consequences of NOT implementing this change?
Explain why the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward. Don’t require employees to leap blindfolded into your plan: justify why the change was initiated in the first place. Communicate what alternatives were discussed and why they were rejected. Anticipate questions like:
Would our company survive without this change?”
“Shouldn’t our company maintain status quo while the market is bad?”
Tune in next week for a bonus change initiative blog! We’ll explore how to tailor a message that will resonate across every level of your organization.