When Communicating Change... Remember this

Communicating change doesn't need to be worse than change itself. Wether you are fretting about an upcoming change or eagerly anticipating it, use tact when you announce the change and keep the following points in mind.

Even Good Change is Disruptive

You'd think that good change is easy to communicate, but not necessarily so, it's just not as difficult as bad change.

communicating change good news

Change brings unknowns, and even good unknowns call for making adjustments in one's life.

For instance, when you get a promotion, you get more authority and money. But you also get more responsibilities and headaches. More will be given to you, and more will be expected from you. Changes come usually this way, with pluses and minuses, so keep this in mind.

Communicate Change Early

This gives the changee enough time to adjust and digest the upcoming change.

Managers feel tempted to delay communicating change to employees until they have complete and final information. This doesn't really help anyone, other than the grapevine.

As a major change unfolds, share what you're privy to with your staff with the caveat that the information is unofficial and that you'll update them as more and better information becomes available.

Avoid Spins

opportunityMost employees can see through a spin. When you try to make a bad or just normal change appear as a good change, people will see your intent and resent that.

It's best to call the change what it is.

As an example, you're told by your manager that you need to move to a different office. You know full well that the change is good and bad, the new location is closer to shops and restaurants, but the office space itself is really ugly, kind of dark and old.

When you communicate this change to your staff, rather than just emphasize what a great move this is, share with your department the pluses and cons of the new location and invite them to come up with ideas on how to make the place look better - within your budget of course.

Resistance to Change... Anyone?

Some people almost seem to thrive in change, while others resist it to death.

The most effective way to communicate change is to acknowledge that every person will have a different reaction to it, including you.

If you find yourself fretting about communicating change to others, take a deep breath and relax before you approach the group. The last thing you need is to project your own fears and concerns to other people. They will sense that and become just as anxious as you are.

Instead, relax and focus on giving the group information abot the change: the what, why, when, and how the change is occurring, so they can see how it will affect them. That may be all they care about anyway.

It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to.

- Marilyn Ferguson


Summing up, keep these pointers in mind when communicating change:

  • Avoid assuming that good change is going to be well received because it's good
  • Announce changes early
  • Avoid putting a spin on the change
  • Avoid spreading or projecting your own resistance and anxiety about the change
  • Share all the pertinent info, the what, why, when and how about the change.