Just minutes after the organizational change email went out, the buzz has already begun: There’s chatter in break rooms and coffee stations, and online in instant messages and email.

That’s not surprising, since change makes employees anxious. So they’re likely to turn to each other to ask questions, voice concerns or offer opinions. But while employee buzz is inevitable, you don’t have to sit back and watch the grapevine grow. Instead, you can treat “buzz” as an opportunity for listening to concerns, addressing issues and providing accurate information as it becomes available.

1 Identify change advocates
When change is significant, leading organizations often recruit “change champions” or “change agents.” These advocates are selected from across the enterprise to become knowledgeable about the change, and to share that knowledge with those in their part of the organization. Such efforts work most effectively when advocates clearly understand their roles and are well prepared to communicate.

2 Collect questions and concerns
The more you know about what’s on employees’ minds, the better you can take steps to respond. So set up a listening strategy. Compile the questions asked at face-to-face sessions and online. Ask leaders and managers what they’re hearing. And look for opportunities to craft communication to respond to employees’ questions and concerns.

3 Design town halls to address questions 
Our research shows that the most memorable part of any town hall is the Q&A session. So leverage this strength by designing town halls to respond to employee buzz about change. If you’ve had trouble encouraging employees to speak up, take a new approach. http://www.davisandco.com/smart-tips/5-ways-increase-town-hall-participation

4 Leverage social media
If your organization has robust internal social media platforms, use them to stimulate discussion by encouraging employees to ask questions and involving a leader or subject matter expert to address them. If your social media efforts are still in development, create special forums like one-hour live chats or one-day discussion boards to create opportunities for online dialogue.

5 Share success stories 
Your colleagues who manage external social media know that good news can have a positive effect on buzz. So develop success stories—examples of how change is working—to influence the buzz. The most effective examples are real employees telling their own stories. Use traditional communication channels or seek new ways to share employee experiences.

 

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