How to Announce Major Change in the Workplace
By Taylor Varco
There’s a reason the adage “no one likes change” exists. Change represents the unknown, and within an organization it can be scary for many people and met with resistance. However, how you approach change in the workplace can prevent some of the negative aftermath of a big change announcement. Take these precautions to ensure your transition goes as smoothly as possible:
- Get buy-in from your top managers and performers.
Getting some of your top staff on board with the change will prevent potential issues down the road. They won’t feel blind-sided when you deliver the official announcement and can even help with a communication and implementation strategy. Let them know how the change is in the best interest of the company and how it will help them do their jobs better. This will also strengthen trust with your senior employees. Give them ample time to digest the news and come back to you with their questions, concerns, and thoughts. You want to make the change with them, not to them.
- Develop a communication and implementation plan.
Once you have buy-in from your executive staff, discuss the plan to deliver the news to the organization and to individual teams. It’s important to have a united front and that everyone is on the same page. Too often you’ll see backlash if there’s information leaks or rumors going around.
- Fully define your “why” and communicate it quickly.
When thinking through your communication, it’s a good idea to do a quick exorcise in truly defining the “why” behind the change. Many times leaders will see backlash when communication is heavy on industry jargon and light on substance, when it comes to the reality of people’s day-to-day in the organization. Make the connection for them. Remind them that there’s a problem you all have been trying to solve, describe the new behaviors that will be needed from everyone, and get to the root of what you’re trying to achieve.
- Acknowledge that change is tough.
Show empathy and understanding that there might be some frustrating moments, but that you’re all in this together. Talk about how the company wants the culture to move towards innovation, new ideas, and that the door is always open if they want to discuss the shift.
- Use a variety of communication methods.
It’s a good idea to communicate the change using multiple communication vehicles. Just because you send out an email, or post something on an internal database, doesn’t mean the intent has been grasped. Redundancy and repetition are helpful to get your points across and ensure they stick for the long-run.
- Don’t forget to check-in.
Set up consistent check-ins with team members to check progress and make any necessary adjustments to the plan. This will keep everyone on-track and focused on implementing the new changes until they become an ingrained part of daily operations.