Think from an employee perspective when communicating change in an organization.


Let’s say a senior leader has asked you to work on an important initiative—one that is essential for company success. Since you’re a dedicated, responsible person, you plunge into the project with great enthusiasm. So do your fellow team members.

Everyone involved with the initiative knows how important it is, so naturally you want to communicate about it. Here’s your idea: The CEO should send an email right now describing the project’s objectives and announcing the team. After that, you should create a weekly e-update sharing the team’s progress.

Not so fast! Although your team members are enthusiastic cheerleaders for this project, it may surprise you to learn that nobody else cares very much. They will be concerned if the initiative affects them. But that outcome hasn’t been decided yet and the change is months away.

So for the time being, your proposed communication is just noise. It’s low priority. Nice to know, not need to know.

What should you do instead? Here’s my advice:

  • Senior leaders (including the CEO) can certainly talk about the initiative in broad terms, and in this context: “Here are our objectives and here are the strategies we’re employing to reach our objectives—including specific action steps like this initiative.” But there’s no need for a separate communication program yet (except to key stakeholders whose help you need to support the project).
  • Once your team has figured out what will happen and when, you’ll need a comprehensive communication plan to support the change.
  • That plan should be structured to support affected employees—to help them understand what’s changing and why, and what they need to do differently.

If this sounds simple, it is. But the important premise is this: For communication to be effective, it’s not about you (and your team members); it’s about employees.

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