3 Change Management Tips from Internal Communicators

Whenever it’s time to roll out a new tool or process, organizations can be certain of one thing: resistance. It’s one of the greatest—and most common—barriers to achieving full user adoption of your new communications technology. Persuading employees to embrace and even advocate for change is vital. That’s why many IT teams turn to the one group in the organizational structure that’s expert in influencing others: Corporate Communications.

This team—especially those who focus on internal messaging—has the experience you need to cultivate excitement for organizational changes, mobilize internal advocates and motivate employees to embrace new behaviors. They have an extensive set of tools to break down resistance and nudge employees in the direction the company needs them to go.

To help you have transition more smoothly when implementing a new communications tool or system, here are three corporate communications practices that are most effective at managing change across the organization, and how they can help you achieve full user adoption.

1. Communicate the big picture

When employees face change, they often process it through their own unique lens. Sometimes what they see just doesn’t make sense to them. They may feel the new communications technology is unnecessary or more complicated than what they’ve used in the past. This creates resistance.

However, by engaging workers early and explaining how the change will help the organization achieve its overarching strategy, you can quell resistance before it starts. As Art Petty notes on Ragan.com, “context and education are crucial in such situations.”

The military in particulary understands the importance of making sure everyone is clear about their mission. Petty shares the example of the Navy SEALs, which prioritize the clarification of “both ‘commander’s intent’ and ‘endstate’ to ensure that everyone that understands the mission purpose and the expected outcome, so they can plan and proceed accordingly.”

2. Provide the right content at the right place and time

Technology rollouts used to require lengthy user guides and in-depth training sessions. Such detailed approaches to content don’t work well in a world in which goldfish supposedly have longer attention spans than humans.

But that’s not the only reason why PR firm Edelman recommends using short, snackable and visual content to fuel your change communications program. Employees must now work their way through more emails and messages each day, with less time to read it all. As a result, it’s critical to deliver fresh, pointed content to their preferred devices and channels. In doing so, you’re more likely to capture their attention.

3. Redefine ‘meeting’

Enthusiasm is contagious, especially when employees are gathered face-to-face. But that’s not always possible when employees are scattered among several far-flung locations. Thus, Edelman recommends providing multiple ways to engage. Be sure to take advantage of new technologies to bring your dispersed workforce together. Internal communicators can use video conferences and web chat to personalize meetings and raise engagement levels.

To ensure that employees interact during virtual calls, ask for input and share any content that will be discussed before the meeting. Edelman points out that smaller, more interactive sessions are more likely to foster discussion.

Finally, the PR firm encourages C-suite and executive leaders to “talk less and listen more.” The more you can engage your employees in changes – and give them a voice – the more likely they are to provide insight and understanding that you may not have considered.

While it may be tempting to push core messages out to the workforce, the most effective way to break down resistance and earn acceptance of your new communications technology is dialogue. The practices outlined above are proven to create goodwill and persuade employees to change their behavior.

Looking to communicate better with your team? See how Mitel's unified communications can help. >

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