Change communication as a leadership imperative

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Leaders face two big challenges as they plan and implement change: First, they must clarify the steps their organization will take to get from where they are to where they want to go. Second, they must determine what to communicate, to whom, how, and when. This involves creating a change narrative that resonates with each stakeholder group who will be affected by – and may be asked to help execute – the change. No change can be successful without meaningful, ongoing communication across the organization. This is what seeds the ground for real collaboration and engagement.

This article introduces a Change Communication Model comprised of seven question sets to help leaders address these challenges:

  1. Planning the change
  2. Inspiring movement
  3. Connecting the dots
  4. Identifying and mitigating resistance
  5. Creating dialogue
  6. Sharing information
  7. Course correcting

The model is grounded in two key notions: First is the idea that those most affected by a change should be informed about and engaged in the change process for the change to be effective and take hold. This is the difference between being the object vs. the co-creator of a change effort. People will always have questions about the change and look to their leaders for answers. How leaders respond either dials up or dials down the inspiration and confidence to engage.

Second, communication is a forcing function. In order to answer tough questions, leaders must know what to say, and that means they must know what they think – and feel – about the change they propose. This clarity paves the way for others to follow. Each element of the change communication model is described, with the goal of offering change teams a plain-language, executable framework to talk about and engage others in the change journey.

Read more about the change communication model and how it can work for your team.