Job Descriptions

5 Change Management Communication Techniques to Achieve 2024 Business Goals

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Quinto Content Team
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Min. Read
December 4, 2023

The new year is fast approaching. This month, visionaries will plan their goals, filled with motivation. Likewise, organizations are gearing up for a new calendar year. Leaders are meeting to revisit mission statements, budgets, and strategic business objectives. What comes out of these meetings are often motivated individuals with ambitious targets. The transition from brainstorming session to implementation is a tricky one. Change is necessary for a business to grow, but how you change matters. Leaders must be able to guide stakeholders through the transition phase with effective change management communication.

How to Initiate Change

Businesses execute new initiatives through change management. Change management is an incremental process of strategizing, planning, communicating, and implementing an organizational change. Change doesn’t affect just an individual or a single department. One simple change affects the whole organization, and leaders need to plan accordingly.

Let’s say your organization has traditionally used a skill-based management approach. In the new year, your executive team plans to implement a competency framework to improve employee effectiveness. The most effective competency frameworks are used in every talent program. This means everyone at every level of the organization must be aware of what they are, how to use them, how competencies affect their position, and what changes will result in this new initiative.

A poorly implemented change can damage business. Leaders may not understand the action plan and lose focus when managing their teams. Employees may feel aggravated by the change and disengage from work. Customers may notice a decrease in the quality of service they receive and take their business elsewhere. Businesses need change management to handle expectations and maintain operations while implementing changes.

The Importance of Change Management Communication Plans

Communication is at the heart of any meaningful change. Employees aren’t machines. You can’t plug them in or push a button to complete a task. Instead, we process change differently. For many, change is scary. When it affects their work and livelihood, change is even more risky. For others, change can mean additional work or pressure. But when people see the value the change can bring them and that their efforts will pay off, they are more willing to participate.

A change management communication plan outlines how decision makers will manage the flow of communications, including when, where, and how to share information with employees. A successful change management communication plan will inspire employees to drive new behaviors to achieve business goals.

5 Internal Change Management Communication Techniques

A child is given a new food to try, but they relentlessly refuse to eat it. They may be wary of taking a bite without knowing how it tastes. They may be trying to make a point. Whatever the reason, they’re not budging. But when they are given a description of how it tastes, see someone they admire eating the food, or are promised a round of their favorite game afterwards, they are more willing to take a bite.

We can use this common scenario to inform how we communicate change. Human behavior often comes down to effort and reward. Use the following best practices when deploying your own change management communication plan.

1. Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Imagine yourself as an individual affected by the change you hope to implement. Consider what they do in a day, how they may feel, and what challenges they face. How will the change affect them? Will they face more challenges or gain more responsibilities? If so, how would that affect their wellbeing? Proactively minimize negative repercussions where you can, and communicate how to address the remaining pain points they may face.

2. Make a Case for the Now

Procrastination can be catastrophic. If you don’t want to do the dishes, they can pile up for days on end until they inevitably break or take over your kitchen. In business, you want to implement a solution before it reaches crisis level. In your change management communication plan, describe to stakeholders the immediate issue you hope to solve with the new initiative. Use real-life examples where possible. When employees can relate to the reason behind a change, they are more likely to support it. Reinforce that acting now is better than acting later.

3. Tell a Story With a Happy Ending

You spent endless hours brainstorming, prioritizing, then planning your change initiative. There’s a good reason you’ve done all that work. When communicating to stakeholders, you’ll need to lay out the practical steps, the individual bricks on the yellow brick road. But employees won’t understand or care about it until they see the Emerald City at the end of it. Share the exciting reality you’ll all enjoy when the change has been executed. Mention specific results, rewards, and accomplishments others can expect by successfully implementing the initiative.

4. Inspire Action

Leaders are responsible for motivating employees to take action. The word “inspire” traces back to the breath, or a life force transitioning from one person to another. In change management, inspiration is necessary to fuel the individuals who will execute the change. Inspire them with your story (from the previous section) and make your employees the heroes of the tale. Describe what the quest entails, how employees can overcome trials, and what missions they’ll have to successfully achieve along the way.

Many organizations use competencies to map out the journey for employees. Quinto competencies are broken into multi-level proficiencies that are described through observable and measurable behavioral indicators. To successfully achieve your goals, what competencies will your employees need? What level are they at now and where do they need to grow? What developmental resources can you give them to get there?

5. Manage the Flow of Communication

News travels fast, and if it’s not coming from the right place, it can be misunderstood. Build trust with your employees with a transparent but controlled change management communication plan. Identify who is responsible for communicating to whom. Managers often advise their own team, or an executive shares news to the whole company. Consider the gravity of the change and how nervous you expect stakeholders to feel about it. If the news is likely to be well received, consider an all-company event where everyone can celebrate together. Or, if the change may initially result in resistance, meet individuals face-to-face to express your empathy and answer questions they may have.

Change Initiates When Employees Do

An individual can either be a catalyst or a deterrent for your change initiative. If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, real change won’t happen until you take on new behaviors, such as planning your meals and preparing them in advance. The same is true for organizational goals. For employees to be the heroes of your story, they must change their behavior to drive results. Here are three steps you can take to support employees in making behavioral changes.

Step 1: Define the Behavior You Want to Change

Set a specific, objective, and clear description of the behavior you want to change. In behavior modification, this is called a behavioral definition. There may be a specific behavior you want the employee to improve on or do more of. Or there may be a competing behavior which gets in the way of them performing an ideal behavior. Clearly define the behavior you need them to increase or decrease. Quinto has over 170 multi-level competencies with definitions to help you pinpoint exactly what the employee needs to work on.

Defining expectations and measuring results starts with job descriptions. Competency-based job description software like Quinto gives people leaders access to thousands of job templates and skills. Job descriptions are the foundation of any effective talent program. Refer to job descriptions when communicating expectations and goals to employees.

Step 2: Set a Behavioral Goal

You know what to change, but now you must define how. We only have so much time and energy—how would you like employees to spend theirs? What rungs on a ladder (or incremental goals) will the employee have to climb to make it to the top? Multi-level competencies give managers clear and observable behavioral indicators to measure the progression of an employee. If an employee is at level two of a specific competency but they need to be at a level four to achieve desired results, managers can use Quinto competencies to plan targeted development programs.

Step 3: Reward with Incentives

Meeting a goal may require employees to take on more work or learn new skills. To keep and motivate employees through a change, offer a compelling incentive. The incentive should speak to their wants or needs (whether that’s a monetary incentive or something like time off). Reward employees after they achieve each incremental goal to celebrate small wins along the way.

Countdown to Growth

Whether you’re counting down the seconds to the new year or planning when and how to announce a change management initiative, this is an exciting time of year for individuals and businesses alike. Robust HR software improves the efficiency of people leaders, so they have more time to lead change management and organizational goals. Do your job descriptions define employee expectations? Do you use competencies and skills to help managers know what behaviors their employees need to adopt to achieve organizational change? Start leading with Quinto and lead a more purposeful and inspired workforce.

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