Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Alison Davis – Founder and CEO of Davis & Company. Her opinions are her own.
Just when you think everything is routinely humming along, here comes another change. Maybe your company is acquiring a smaller firm. Or senior managers have decided to restructure the organization. Or employees are moving to a new office location. Or it’s time to introduce a new IT system or business process.
Whatever the nature of the disruption, there’s one strategy for communicating change to employees that you definitely want to include in your internal communication plan.
That element? Giving managers what they need to communicate change to their team members.
After all, when it comes to most issues—and especially when change is involved—employees are inclined to look to their managers for answers when they need to take action or make a decision. And if you make it easy for managers to do what you want them to do, you increase the likelihood that they will do the right thing.
Employees don’t want managers to stand up and present a complicated PowerPoint about the change. (That’s lucky, because most managers would rather get a root canal than do that.) What employees do want is for managers to provide useful, just-in-time information, usually in the form of answers to questions.
Your role as communicator is to keep managers in the loop, so they’re ready to share information and respond to employees. Here are three ways to help managers succeed in this important communication role when it comes to change management:
When you’re rolling out a new program, prepare managers first.
They’ll have the inside scoop and feel knowledgeable enough to answer questions. If the topic is complex and the change is significant, invite managers to participate in a face-to-face session. Or, if time is short and managers work at multiple locations, host a web-based briefing. Whichever format you choose, make sure the session offers managers a chance to ask questions and interact with leaders.
Now that you’ve given managers a thorough understanding of what’s changing, provide them with communication tools, conveniently packaged in an electronic download or posted on the intranet. Include the following components:
Although you may think Frequently Asked Questions are an old-fashioned communication method, my firm’s extensive research with managers has found that FAQs are their favorite tool. That’s because FAQs help managers predict the tough questions employees are likely to ask, while giving them the information they need to respond knowledgeably and honestly. This sets up managers to be the first source employees go to for information.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating manager-friendly FAQs:
Here are five questions to think about when drafting your FAQs for an upcoming initiative or change:
How can you this advice into practice? Here are two examples of how organizations set managers up for success:
Questions asked by managers during the sessions were collected, and at the end of all sessions, an FAQ document was created and distributed for managers to use with their employees.
As a result, 95 percent of managers attending the web meetings said they understood the new incentive plan.
Are you ready to help managers communicate change? Provide them with the information and tools they need to be knowledgeable and prepared.
Best Companies To Work For