|The following tutorial is an excerpt from the Change Management Best
Practices Benchmarking Report. This study involved 288 companies from 51 countries, and
the following excerpt is from the communications section of the report.
Development of a communication plan was the most common task for
change management teams. When ask about communication practices and the frequency of
communications, project teams tended to communicate less frequently than they thought they
should have during the project (see Figure 1).
1 Communication frequency
Nearly 40% of study participants indicated that weekly communications
provided the desired frequency, with about one-third indicating either several times a
week or daily.
The table below is a complete list of the methods participants used
Brown bag lunches
Cascading communication trees
Corporate newsletters (feature section)
Department or enterprise meetings
Frequently asked questions
Internal paper memos
Town Hall meetings
Word of mouth
Participants indicated that face-to-face communications were the most
effective. Face-to-face interactions included:
- group and team
Several other themes emerged in relation to effective communication.
First, communication should be open and risk free where employees can ask
questions. Second, different types of communication are better depending on the message.
One participant wrote that the best methods of communicating were:
to face (for effect); email (for efficiency)
Who should deliver the message?
Participants were fairly split over who was the ideal sender of
change management messages as shown in Figure 15. The top two senders indicated by
employees supervisor (to deliver messages that directly impact the employee)
(to deliver messages about the business drivers and business vision)
Figure 2 Ideal message
note: The top two answers (CEO/President and supervisor) show an interesting dichotomy.
The two individuals selected most often are the closest to and farthest away from the
front-line employees in the organizational structure. A second implication results from
the amount and type of control of these two particular individuals. The supervisor has the
most control over the direction of the employees daily activities, while the CEO /
president has the most control over the direction of the business.
Important messages to communicate
The most important messages to communicate to impacted employees fell
into two categories:
Messages about the change
- the current
situation and the rationale for the change
- a vision of
the organization after the change takes place
- the basics of
what is changing, how it will change, and when it will change
expectation that change will happen and is not a choice
- status updates
on the implementation of the change, including success stories
Messages about how the change will
impact the employee
- the impact of
the change on the day-to-day activities of the employee (WIIFM Whats in it
of the change on job security (Will I have a job?)
behaviors and activities expected from the employee, including support of the change
- procedures for
getting help and assistance during the change
What aspects of communication contributed the most to your programs success?
Responses regarding the most successful aspect of communication
varied. Participants discussed both the type (how it was delivered) and the specific
message and characteristic (what was delivered) of effective communication.
In relation to the delivery of the message, participants
overwhelmingly indicated that direct, face-to-face communication was most effective.
Direct communications were seen as successful for conveying messages about the need for
change, providing details about specific roles and expectations, describing the future
state and answering specific questions.
In addition to how the message was delivered, participants provided
characteristics of communications that contributed to success. According to participants,
successful communications were:
- honest Honesty
even when the consequences were possibly negative
- frequent and
constant throughout the entire program
transparent and safe
Participants also stated that
communications, when done properly and delivered by the right source, were direct evidence
of the support and commitment to change by executives and sponsors.
What would you do differently with regard to communication?
Participants indicated that the top five changes they would make
regarding their communications were:
More communications (more frequent).
Begin communications sooner in the
More face-to-face communications
some participants felt that they relied too heavily on email, not recognizing the
importance of a personal approach.
More communication from executive
sponsors and senior managers.
More about the impact of the change on
employees answering the questions how will this affect me and what is in it for me.
The following three methods were the most used by participants to
collect feedback from employees: (see Figure 3):
- team question
and answer sessions
question and answer sessions
Communications were viewed as a vital component to the overall change
management program to build awareness of the need for change and to create knowledge about
the future state. For more information on communication planning, see the Change Management
Coming next - Part 4 of the Using ADKAR series - The
Power of Knowledge