Effective Change Tactics = Communication + Training + Engagement
For me, effective change management tactics usually fall into one of these three categories: communication, training, or engagement. While each is important, the overall change can not be accomplished or sustained without some combination of all three. Communication goes hand in hand with training (imparting new skills) and engagement (involving the right people, in the right way, to do the actual work of change). Communication is necessary, but insufficient, as a change management strategy. With that said, however, communication can be a form of engagement if done well. Here are a couple of my favorite communication methods:
1. Open Forum. Leaders are invited to share their perspective on the change and why it is necessary/important (or, as the change continues, leaders provide updates, next steps, etc). Those listening (either in person or virtually) are able to submit questions. A moderator conducts a Q&A so folks can get immediate feedback on questions they have for the leaders. A variation on this method is to have those listening get in small groups (4-6 people) and reflect on 1) what they heard from the leaders 2) the implications of the leaders’ messages and 3) questions they have for the leaders prior to the Q&A starting. The group then prioritizes its top questions and a spokesperson offers the group’s question when called upon by the moderator. That way, individuals aren’t singled out when asking questions to leaders, and the questions come from the group.
2. SharePoint. To the extent possible, I love inviting people to visit the project website for information, updates, to sign up for training events, to engage in discussion forums, etc. It is a great way to engage people from a distance and encourage active, informed discussion. Change managers can moderate the discussions and respond to questions, requests for information, suggestions, etc. This is a great way to keep a pulse on what is being said/not said. This can be a two-way communication activity.
3. Change Advocate Networks. Many large-scale programs recruit, develop, and deploy change advocates who can help the program leaders keep a pulse on what is happening with those affected by the change. In some organizations, these folks are nominated/voted for by their departments to represent them. In other organizations, I’ve seen managers select them. The purpose of the network is to use these advocates as a sensing mechanism and as a way to help deliver information, training, etc. Network members find out things like how coworkers are responding to proposed changes, and what ideas, challenges and obstacles may be met along the way. They can also serve as credible conduits back to the project team so people feel they have an avenue by which to share their thoughts.
What communication tactics do you use in change and how do they help you engage with others?