Role of Communication in Change Management

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What is Change Management?
Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. Change management is a systematic approach to dealing with change, both from the perspective of an organization and on the individual level. It is a set of processes that is employed to ensure that significant changes are implemented in an orderly, controlled and systematic fashion to effect organizational change. Objective of change management is to maximize the collective benefits for all people involved in the change and minimize the risk of failure of implementing the change One of the goals of change management is with regards to the human aspects of overcoming resistance to change in order for organizational members to buy into change and achieve the organization's goal of an orderly and effective transformation.

Why Change management?
Management’s first responsibility is to identify processes or behaviors that are not proficient and come up with new behaviors, processes, etc that are more effective within an organization. Once changes are identified, it is important for managers to estimate the impact that they will have to the organization and individual employee on many levels including technology, employee behavior, work processes, etc.

At this point management should assess the employee's reaction to an implemented change and try to understand the reaction to it. In many cases, change can be extremely beneficial with lots of positives; however certain changes do sometimes produce a tremendous amount of resistance.

Even though users welcome the changes introduced by these projects, they will still undergo the emotional cycle of change. It is important to communicate with affected personnel beforehand to limit the impact of the change on business operations.

Communication and Change -- Who, What, When?

As a change leader we need to make decisions about who you must communicate with, what needs to be communicated, when you will communicate and how you will do it.

Managers sometimes have a tendency to communicate about change on a "need to know basis". However, effective change leaders recognize that almost any change will have effects on most people in an organization, no matter how resistant they are towards the change. The basic rule of thumb is that communication should take place directly between the manager and employees when employees NEED TO KNOW OR WANT TO KNOW. Except for situations that involve confidentiality, even those who are indirectly affected will likely want to know what is going on, and how it may affect them.

If you need to determine what to communicate, keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish through your communication about change. When you communicate you are trying to:

Give information that will reduce uncertainty and ambiguity regarding the change. •Pre-empt the hidden information system of the grapevine, so you can ensure that incorrect anxiety provoking information is not spreading. •Provide forums for employees to communicate their reactions and concerns to you. While deciding what should be communicated, communicate as much information about the change as is available to you. If you only have a small amount of information about a negative change, communicating it may increase anxiety levels and rampant speculation. As a change leader, you must be aware that your staff will watch you carefully to guess how you are feeling about the change, and they will draw their own conclusions based on your behavior. Sometimes these conclusions will be wrong and destructive.

The longer you wait to communicate details of change, the more likely you are to extend the period of adjustment. This is because it is very difficult to "keep a lid" on anything...
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