Change is a necessary and powerful force, it's what drives progress and innovation — but it's no secret that it can also be the source of major headaches.
Roughly 60% of organizational change programs fail to achieve their goal either completely or partially, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support.
It’s essential to understand that change management should be done with the employees in mind.
Change is not just about implementing new processes; it’s also about helping employees adapt to new ways of working and feel comfortable in the transition.
In this article, we’ll discuss the role of internal communications in change management and how to communicate change effectively.
What is Change Management?
Change management is a term that refers to the process of leading the people's side of change to achieve a desired outcome. It involves communicating, motivating, and supporting employees who are affected by a change in the organization, such as a new strategy, structure, system, or culture.
Change management can help reduce resistance, increase engagement, and ensure the successful adoption of the change.
The term change management can be traced back to the 1960s when researchers such as Kurt Lewin and John Kotter developed models and frameworks for understanding and managing organizational change.
Since then, change management has evolved into a multidisciplinary field that draws on psychology, sociology, business, and project management. Change management is now widely recognized as a critical success factor for any organizational change initiative.
Why do Change Initiatives Fail?
Change initiatives are basically any large-scale implementations that change the way an organization works.
These initiatives have an important part to play in the success of an organization and are therefore planned to the finest detail.
However, change initiatives often fail because employees are reluctant to accept them, leading to a lack of compliance or commitment toward the project.
And although there is no definitive answer on why employees are resistant to change, some of the most common reasons are:
Lack of clear vision and goals: For change initiatives to be accepted, employees need to understand why the change is necessary and how it will benefit them.
Lack of leadership support and alignment: Leadership support is critical for successful change initiatives. Leaders must have a thorough understanding of the initiative and be able to effectively communicate that knowledge to their teams, as well as model the desired behavior.
Lack of employee engagement and participation: Change initiatives need to involve and engage the employees who are affected by the change and who will implement the change.
Employees need to understand the rationale and benefits of the change, have a voice in the process, and receive adequate training and support. Without employee engagement and participation, change initiatives can encounter apathy, anxiety, and resentment.
The Role of Internal Communications in Change Management
Communication is vital for successful change initiatives: it helps everyone stay on the same page and understand why the changes are necessary, builds trust and credibility among those involved, encourages feedback from all perspectives, and reinforces desired behaviors.
Internal communication plays a key role in these strategies; it helps to engage employees, create dialogue, and open channels for questions and feedback.
It also provides a compelling vision of the desired future state by demonstrating how the change aligns with organizational values, goals, and mission, and how it will benefit everyone involved personally and professionally.
Moreover, internal communications can help provide accurate information about what’s changing, why, when, and how; it can help dispel rumors and address resistance.
Finally, internal communication helps to provide guidance and training for new ways of working. It helps monitor performance and measure results, reward achievements and celebrate successes.
Overall, effective internal communication can be a powerful tool to ensure successful change management. It helps create trust and acceptance of the changes while providing a platform for meaningful dialogue and collaboration among those involved.
How to Communicate Change Effectively?
As we’ve seen, effective communication is essential for successful change initiatives. But how do you communicate change effectively? Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Start with a clear purpose:
Before you even begin to communicate the change, be sure you have a solid understanding of its purpose and how it will benefit everyone involved.
What is the goal? What are the desired outcomes?
As the change leader, start with finding a few change managers and getting them on board. Communicate your vision and purpose to them and ensure they understand it.
2. Craft a clear message:
Once you have a clear understanding of the change initiative and its purpose, craft a simple, concise, and compelling message about the change that everyone can understand.