Tips for Communicating Change

Excerpted from Complete Guide to Integrated Change Communication: Best Practices for Major Announcements, available from the IABC Knowledge Centre.

Initial material (open letter, speaking notes) should address the following points:
• Explain why the change is necessary and what will happen if there is no change.
• Include the external/competitive reasons for the change—how does it fit into the overall business strategy and the organization’s priorities?
• Describe the future state from the perspective of the target audience—what is changing for each group, what role does technology play, any changes in decision-making process, etc.
• Identify what is not changing at this time.
• Explain the process, including what will be done to help each affected audience through the process.
• Outline timing and when they will get more details.

Updates during the change (regular meetings, written updates) should:
• Repeat the messages over and over again. (Research shows that most people have to hear something five times before they really understand it.)
• Create ways to ask questions, provide feedback and express resistance.
• Provide information and answers in a variety of ways, using a variety of media.
• Identify and acknowledge the obstacles to change.

Note: Change management studies indicate that once a week is the minimum frequency for ongoing communication updates during a major change.

As you approach the end state:
• Acknowledge the distance people have come.
• Remind them why they had to change.
• Identify any future changes.
• Thank them for their efforts and the result.
• Hold periodic celebrations.