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Five simple steps for communicating change

By Stuart Harrison | 22 July 2013

Railway-0002-880x.jpgA lack of communication is a broad term often used when people are struggling to learly establish what is going on within an organisation, project or team and what is needed of them.

The key here is to accurately communicate what is needed. Nothing more and certainly nothing less. Here we take our lessons from military, who have developed communication frameworks over many years of honing highly accurate and mission-critical communication strategies.

They are easily adapted for the workplace to improve communication flow and therefore understanding and trust.

“Man can withstand any amount of what, if he understands why?”

This tool focusses on communication flow from a Team Leader to their Team Members that communicates imminent change. This prevents people being surprised by the change. Not many people like change and the more clearly and specifically information is communicated, the more readily people know where they stand.

Five steps for communicating change change

  1. What (action/subject)
  2. Why (reason)?
  3. Where (location)
  4. Who (is responsible/involved)
  5. When (timings)

What might this look like in action? Even if the change initiative is large it is helpful to be clear, simple and specific. Remember to keep the messages positive and let them know the benefits you want to create. Here is an example.

WhatWe are implanting a new IT employment hiring system (PeopleSoft)

Then the critical piece here is to explain briefly, why?

WhyBecause we need to select and onboard the right people more quickly and effectively. Our current methods of hiring are too expensive and cumbersome. HQ want to move to a shared services system that encourages consistency and financial control.

Your people may not agree with the why, but at least they know and in some way understand why the decision has been made.

WhereThis will be implemented first in Sydney offices and then be spread to Brisbane and Melbourne.

Who Katia Makepeace will be heading the IT team and working closely with Barney Rubble of HR, who will directly communicate with your department heads. They are happy to answer any questions you have about the process.

WhenThis will start by 4th August 2013 and be complete by 30th November 2013.

So you can see that this is a very brief message that is clear a concise and will keep people informed. With the high degree of communication ‘noise’ and information people have to process these days, working from a well-defined template that gets the ‘right’ amount of information across can be critical. Not too much and not too little. And lastly, consistency of communicating will be the deciding factor of whether your people feel informed or kept in the dark.

Remember, certain types of communication will only transfer messages and not receive them. It is important that you are clear on what you want your communication to achieve? If in doubt, ask you people what they need and adapt your model to suit.

About the Author: Stuart Harrison

Stuart Harrison

Stuart is a consultant, coach and former Royal Marine Commando who helps leaders harness emotional intelligence and engage people. He is Founder and Director of Leadership Horsepower.

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