Previously I’ve spoken about organisational change, change management and emotional intelligence which are all timely issues right now. In addition to these areas, I like to highlight the importance of the communications strategy in managing organisational change.
Covin and Kilman’s (1990) research note that:
‘Failure to share information or to inform people adequately of what changes are necessary and why they are necessary were viewed as having a highly negative impact. Secrecy, dishonesty, and the failure to assess dysfunctional rumours were also issues of concern’.
Hence, a positive communication strategy would involve announcing the change early (even if incomplete); establishing an information timeline; commenting on the inability to give further information; clarifying the values and protocol for change decisions; tailoring each communication to the intended audience and finally, involving those affected by the changes in as much planning as possible (DiFonzo and Bordia. 1998).
This is a particularly key point as participation in the process can greatly assist in reducing employee resistance to change (Robbins, Waters-Marsh, Cacioppe and Millett. 1994), however full participation in the processes is not always possible due to the nature and sensitivity required by some changes (such as a restructure) and time constraints. It is also wise to use a variety of media to deliver your messages, however face-to-face should always remain the preferred medium.
Finally, it’s important from a HR standpoint to view the communication process and the implementation of organizational change as inextricably linked processes (Lewis. 1999) that must be carried out systematically in order to assist people to cope with change and achieve a positive impact upon the business.
Do you know of any good or bad examples of organisations trying to communicate change?