Manager talking about change with employee

When an organization is facing change, employees turn to their managers first. Yet managers often find it challenging to respond to questions and concerns, especially when change negatively affects their team members.

How can you prepare managers to communicate? One effective tool is the scenario, a brief narrative or story that describes a specific possibility that may occur. Scenarios anticipate real situations so managers feel prepared to engage with team members.

Here are four tips for creating scenarios:

1. Think of the three to five most common situations
Scenarios work best when they anticipate how change will occur—and what managers will need to talk to team members about.

Our company is realigning job titles:

  • Some employees will keep their title
  • Others will have a new title that is “lower” than their current title
  • Still others will have a new title that is “higher” than their current title


2. Give managers a script
For each scenario, provide managers with talking points, FAQs and other content. The idea is not that managers will recite every word, but that they’ll be thoroughly prepared to have a conversation.

For a new job title that is higher than your current job title, you will immediately use your new title. However, remember that your role and responsibilities are the same; this is simply an internal realignment and not a promotion.



3. Prepare managers for the worst
An employee may become emotional when dealing with change; he or she may get angry or upset, or shut down. Give managers advice on how to cope.
If you feel the situation is getting out of control or you are not sure what to say next, tell the employee you wish to take a break from the conversation and that you will continue it at a later date. Then contact your HR Business Partner for advice and schedule a follow-up meeting.



4. If change is significant, get managers together
Providing written tools may work well for minor change, but if the situation is more serious, invest in bringing managers together for a briefing or even a training session. That gives you the opportunity to create exercises to help managers practice.

Let’s role play a situation where an employee is angry about a new job title that seems like a demotion.

The employee says, “Why am I being punished? Don’t you value my contribution? You’ve always given me high ratings for my performance!”

What do you say?




We can help you tackle any employee communication challenge