The corporate roadside is littered with failed change-management efforts, and a major contributing cause is ineffective communication. Maybe it’s a new software system that’s known to improve productivity, but the expected users are not engaged, and training is inadequate. Or, perhaps the company wants to move from a divisional org chart to a matrix reporting structure, and managers can’t figure out who they report to. Or, it could be a new strategic acquisition, and too many questions remain unanswered regarding how to deal with redundancy. What a mess!
What is the answer to dealing with these conundrums? Communication! It’s incredibly important to have a communication strategy and then develop the tactical plan to support your strategy and get your message out. Here are some tips for any leadership team to accomplish both.
- Develop clear goals for the proposed communication (for the short and long term)
- Identify all audiences and anticipate their receptivity
- Prepare to use various channels and methods to communicate
- Anticipate any unintended consequences of the communication
- Draw upon internal experts known for their great communication style
The Tactical Plan
- Develop a project plan that starts well before and finishes long after the change has taken place
- Conduct a team review of all communications for completeness and honesty
- Set up multiple channels for those who may be affected to engage with leadership
- Plan ample time for Q&A for all stakeholders
- Prepare for having to broadcast the same messages multiple times
These are some basic principles, but all too often they are not followed. Whatever your change management project is, be sure that inclusive, timely, and effective communication is a driving factor to achieve operational success.
Doug Ardoin, MD, MBA, is managing principal for Lumina Health Partners.