yellow sign indicating change

Nothing is more frustrating than having a great plan and being unable to communicate the plan to your audience. Change communication can be a long, bumpy process, but understanding some of the principles behind good communication can make it smoother. 

Principle 1: The Right Message for the Right Audience 

Any good change communication plan considers the various audiences you are trying to reach. Frequently, these audiences are defined by their status (for example: board members, staff, clients), by age, by race, or by other socioeconomic factors. Understanding who your various audiences are and how to reach them (in terms of message and platform) will help make the outreach more effective. 

If your audience is primarily internal, you might consider conducting team assessments aimed at determining communications styles. 

Principle 2: The Right Message for the Right Platform 

We have more methods of communication than ever before. Texts, phone calls, emails, intranets, social media, websites, video … the list goes on. Understanding how each platform works, and its limitations will help your communications be more effective. For example, if you know that most of your supporters read your emails on their phone, you will know that email messages need to be kept short and sweet. Understanding the capabilities of your website will prevent you from frustrating your web designer with unrealistic requests. Spending some time evaluating and analyzing your communications platforms before you create a plan, will help that plan be more effective. 

Principle 3: The 20-60-20 Rule 

Simply put, the 20-60-20 rule states that 20% of your audience is on board with your changes. Twenty percent is not on board and probably never will be. Sixty percent can be swayed either way. Why is this important? Concentrating too much energy and attention on people at either end of your spectrum can wind up wasting time and failing to reach the 60% of people you need to reach.  

Principle 4: Be Flexible and Open 

Change communication can require a lot of trial and error. You may have planned to roll out information at an annual meeting, only to have people ask you questions months beforehand. Sticking with your plan can leave people feeling left out and confused. You might have thought a message was clear and later discover that it raised more questions than it answered.  

Principle 5: Be Patient and Persistent 

A frequent business truism is that “perception is reality.” This is not entirely true. But it is true that people’s perceptions of a change often happen much slower than the reality. For example, if your staff has requested a more transparent promotions process it may take several months after you create the process for staff to “feel” like things have become more transparent. With change communication it’s important that you continue to find new and effective ways of communicating the change, long after you might feel you should. 

If you have a change or other communications issue you’d like help with, let us know. 

CHANGE MANAGEMENT: The Role of Strategic Communication

Change management is the process of helping individuals and the organization to transition from a current state to a desired state.

This workbook explores change management as a communication function. It lays the groundwork with an explanation of popular change models, including The Change Curve and The Change Cycle. It then guides readers through the process of strategic change communication focused specifically on organization planning, people, processes, and performance.

Learn how to craft a vision for change, manage stakeholder expectations, set measurable change objectives, and communicate change effectively in your organization in this latest addition to Brighter Strategies’ Training Series: Planning, Process, People, Performance.

Change Management: The Role of Strategic Communication ebook