Home Digital Transformation and Digital Adoption Your Guide to Change Management Communication
Digital Transformation and Digital Adoption

Your Guide to Change Management Communication

Your Guide to Change Management Communication

During times of high stress, it’s natural to clam up.

When we’re feeling overwhelmed in our daily lives and suffering from poor mental health, it becomes incredibly difficult to admit we need help or even communicate how we’re feeling to our loved ones.

Why should the work environment be any different? 

Change is an incredibly difficult – and stressful – undertaking for many. Psychologically, the human brain automatically wants to reject anything that feels “out of the norm”.

So, if you’ve identified issues in your business that you know could benefit from updates (or a complete overhaul), then you’re likely wondering how you can get your employees on board.

Our answer? You need an effective change management communication plan.

Only 66.5% of employees are informed about change happening in their organization, and it’s these companies that struggle to adapt. Don’t be one of them.

Although you can’t force your employees to be honest about what they are going through and how they are feeling throughout the change, there are certain facilitations you can make to create safe environments that encourage communication. 

Soon, you’ll be well on your way to successful business development.

First, let’s cover some of the basics.

What is Change Management? Your Guide to Change Management Communication.

What is Change Management?

Change management is the process where relevant business stakeholders (including employees and customers) are prepared for and supported through organizational change.

What is Change Management Communication?

Change management communication is your ability to clearly deliver all the information your stakeholders need to accept change. This may include explaining what is happening, why it is happening, and how it would affect them. 

Change Management Communication Plans

An effective change management communication plan wouldn’t just touch base with your stakeholders before the change. It would provide consistent updates and important information throughout the entire change process, keeping relevant individuals “in the loop” for what’s going on.

For both employees and customers, this would require an in-depth understanding of how they best retain information and would also offer them the chance to provide feedback or request support.

Why is Effective Communication Essential to Change Management?

As we’ve briefly touched on already, change isn’t easy.

There are a thousand different factors to consider when implementing a new process or system across your business, and the main concern for many managers is whether or not their stakeholders will be receptive.

Effective communication would allow staff members and customers to see the importance of change and would also highlight the benefits of doing so. As a result, they may be less likely to push back, and you can increase adoption rates and boost ROI.

The reality is that over 70% of organizational change initiatives fail. One of the main reasons for that is a lack of communication. That’s why honesty is the best policy.

Change Management Communication Best Practices in 2022

So, what can you do to ensure successful continuous improvement? Communicate, communicate, communicate. 

However, it’s a little more complicated than a quick chat with affected individuals. 

These change management communication best practices reveal that you need to take an employee-centric approach that answers the needs of your team, and provides emotional support for them along the way.

Here’s what you should do before implementing your change management communication strategy…

1. Build Team Relationships

Trust is a critical element of effective communication. 

None of your employees will feel safe being open and honest if they fear repercussions or judgement. Even your most senior staff member may encounter something they struggle with, and whether they trust their team will be the deciding factor in the success of your change management communications.

2. Use Multiple Communication Channels

Both private and public forums are necessary elements of your approach to change management.

You need to ensure employees can easily reach each other, regardless of where they are in the world or what time they are working. Omnichannel strategies can promote open conversation and enhance effective communications.

3. Have Present and Accessible Leadership

In times of crises and change, your staff members have to be able to reach out to their leaders. Being able to request help and speak to more experienced employees will ensure there’s a steady support network in place. This will help eliminate resistance to change.

4. Select “Champions of Change”

Not every employee will be unwilling to listen to what you have to say. Perhaps someone made the suggestion you’ve decided to listen to, and this is a great opportunity. Appoint them as a “champion of change”. 

The ideal person would be…

  1. Someone with a low level of authority.
  2. An active member of their team.
  3. An employee who can be trusted.
  4. Passionate and excitable.

Their contribution to your change management communication plan might be able to change the mindsets of other staff members. 

5. Prepare For Resistance

It’s inevitable to experience hiccups when you’re implementing change.

Bear this in mind when you are plotting your change management strategies, and make sure you increase your budget, resources, and time allocated accordingly. Some employees may need more convincing than others and could use some extra guidance from a mentor. 

How to Create a Change Management Communication Plan

Creating a communication plan for change management is easy. If you already have a concrete internal communications strategy in place, you’ll already have most of the tools required.

  1. Identify Your Purpose: One of the main elements of any change management communication is understanding exactly what you want (or need) to say. Once you do, you can base your whole strategy on this.
  2. Understand Your Audience: Conduct a thorough assessment of what you want to happen and how it’ll affect your employees. Then, decide how you’d like to address them and what they’d be most receptive to. Do you need to be authoritative and professional? Or friendly?
  3. Select Channels: Now you have an idea of what to say, you need to choose a channel that will work for your stakeholders. This may require multiple touchpoints. 
  4. Strategize Interactions: Start drafting your speech and/or messages and remember to be clear, consistent, and concise. Provide as much information as possible, and make sure you have something to say before the change, during the change, and after.
  5. Set SMART Goals: The final thing you need to do for your change management communication plan is to set goals that you can measure along the way. This will give you a good idea of where you may need to increase your presence and who you’ll need to speak to personally.

Change Management Communication Plan – Sample

A basic version of a communication strategy for change management would look a little like this:

PurposeReduce resistance to software adoption of System B.
AudienceA remote employee who runs the marketing department. 
Channel(s)Usually communicate by email, but this conversation is better done in person.
Interaction(s)Hi Sarah,

Peter – in IT – has reported that System A has been glitching a lot and making your job difficult.

I’m considering a new alternative, System B, that can be ready to use by the end of the month.

When you’re in the office, shall we take a look and decide if it’s what you need? I can book a demonstration with the provider if that’s of interest.

Let me know,

Goal(s)To ensure the smooth transition from System A to System B.

Of course, your plan of approach would get more complex based on:

  • how many goals you have
  • the number of employees you need to speak with
  • the size of the change
  • the messages that need to be sent
  • the support that needs to be provided
  • the channels you need to use
  • the sensitivity of the subject matter
  • your tone of voice
Strategies of change management you can take.

Launching Your Change Management Communication Strategy

Once you’ve carefully planned your approach to change management, put it into action.

Step 1 – Inform Employees
Your first job is to inform your employees of the upcoming change.

This could be as simple as a mass-communication message sent through email, or you might decide to wait until your weekly Friday meeting.

Don’t forget to provide as much information as possible and be willing to answer questions.

Step 2 – Outline Clear Expectations
Next, you can publish the strategy you want employees to take throughout the course of the change. 

You might decide to create a helpful infographic with some key details that can be posted on the notice board in the office. This should educate employees further on:

  1. Why the change is happening.
  2. What they can do to help it.

Step 3 – Slowly Implement Change
Once you’re certain every relevant stakeholder has been alerted of the change, you can start to implement your pre-planned strategy. Make sure to keep your employees up-to-date on every bit of progress.

Step 4 – Listen and Act
The final part of any successful change management communication plan is to let other people contribute. Carefully collect feedback, listen to your stakeholders, find solutions to any concerns, and be honest throughout.

Step 5 – Celebrate Your Success
To enhance your future chances of detailed change management communications, be sure to celebrate the process and hard work put in by your employees. This grows the relationship you have with them as their employer and makes them more likely to come to you if they have any concerns.

Examples of Change Management Communications

An interesting change management communication example is one that occurs frequently in the gaming community. Though it’s not an internal approach, a lot of the same theories can be applied in your business. 

A popular co-operative PVP game, Overwatch, requires frequent updates to patch bugs and balance characters in order to improve the user experience.

Time and time again, players have complained about some of these changes… but still, Blizzard (the creator) persists. They persuade their audience to accept the changes by communicating them in different stages.

First, they discuss major launches at an annual conference. Their speech has been tried and tested and designed to excite players rather than intimidate them. 

Second, they provide “patch notes” and reminders across their inbuilt game launcher, which adds professionalism to their message and helps them achieve their goals of increasing awareness of the change. 

Thirdly, they build excitement and release extra information on social media. This reaches the last remnants of their audience. 

Finally, they release the updates in a secondary version of their game which players can opt into trying (which reduces the final barrier between them and change management). Then, after reviewing and acting on feedback, they go live.

Change Management Communication – FAQs

At its core, change management communication requires honesty and consistency. 

You need to carefully plan what you want to say and how you want to say it, making sure to consider the needs of your audience and the support you can provide. 

Before you begin, review our holistic change management talk or check out these FAQs for further guidance.

What are the successful elements of change management?

There are many factors that lead to smooth transitions of change within your company. The main ones that all change initiatives will need are resources, time, and communication. 

How do you communicate through change management?

Change management communication requires the same tools as any other (internal or external) communication strategy. Try to take a blended approach when addressing your stakeholders and consider talking to them in-person and digitally.

What should a change management communication plan include?

You should include an outline of your purpose, research about your audience, the channel you’ll use to speak to them, in-depth drafts of your intended interaction, and any goals you want to achieve.

How do you create a successful change management plan?

The core ingredient is communication. As long as you can be clear with your intentions to relevant stakeholders, concise with your messaging, and consistent with your approach – you can implement change across the majority of your business processes.

Creating your change management communication plan.

Support Change Management Communication through Userlane

In today’s digital environments, communicating with your stakeholders can be a complex process… just like change.

After all, with your employees:

  1. Not everyone is working in the office at the same time.
  2. Remote workers won’t be able to attend in-person meetings. 
  3. Different departments will have preferences on how and where they communicate. 

A change management communication plan, therefore, needs to take all of this into account. 

Userlane’s Digital Adoption Platforms are the answer to changing environments where new software and systems are having to be introduced regularly in order for businesses to stay competitive. They aid employees in learning how to use each feature of a platform so that they can communicate effectively.

Would that be of use?

Request a demonstration today.

New to Userlane? Take a step in your software adoption journey and join the pool of our happy customers.
Avatar photo
About the author:
The Userlane team brings you digital adoption insights, product updates, and plenty of onboarding and engagement advice for user-centric businesses.