Updated: Apr 3
"Effective change communication is at the heart of successful change, it acts like the blood in our bodies, but instead of supplying vital oxygen and nutrients, communication supplies information and motivation to the impacted stakeholders"
Effective communication is at the heart of successful business change, creating awareness and understanding about the change. Even in normal day-to-day operations many business problems encompass communication failure, equally communication failure causes business problems. All too often organisational leaders and the change team do not give enough consideration towards the need for communication. Change programmes focus on the human side of change within the business and must incorporate a clear, focused and repetitive approach to communication, which is strongly linked to their engagement with stakeholders. It is important that the communication is proactive and consistent to reinforce the key change messages and vision with a feedback loop.
A multi-level fountain is a great metaphor to show how change should cascade down through the organisation. This concept is equally important when communicating the change. The water flows from the top, soaking each layer of the organisation until it reaches the pool at the bottom and then it is pumped back up to the top as part of a continuous loop. The water is the change business case, vision, expectations, responsibilities and business benefits.
Top Down: The cascade approach should start top down from the CEO and sponsor, be passed to and from the executive team to the department managers and finally to all other employees. Like the water in the fountain, no level should be missed or bypassed.
Between Departments: Horizontal and diagonal communication flow is also important to ensure departments are aware of what each other are doing. Benefits include collaboration, coordination, problem solving and resource sharing.
Feedback Loop: In the fountain, the water must be returned to the top to ensure a continuous flow. Similarly, the organisation needs feedback from the employees in the organisation. The feedback loop should provide insights into what is/is not working and what needs to be adjusted.
No Vacuums: Vacuums will always exist when change is being cascaded. There may be resistance where some employees have other priorities, do not understand the change or do not agree with it. The vacuum should be quickly filled, and any resistance should be addressed.
Peter consults, speaks, and writes on the Leadership of Change®.
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