3 communication tactics to encourage change

3 communication tactics to encourage change

By Paul Lester

Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Nothing is permanent, but change.”  Society must adapt despite resistance from those who refuse to embrace change.

The same is true for organizations that have implemented new internal policies and programs. Although these changes ultimately benefit the organization and its stakeholders, how do managers communicate these changes and get buy-in from overstretched employees who are used to working a very specific way for an extremely long time?

Clearly identifying what the changes are, why they are being implemented and what the advantages are the first steps. Then, you must spread the message directly to the workforce within the organization using a strategy that is aligned with the organization’s desired outcomes and long-term priorities. With your strategy in place, here are three potential tactics to consider when motivating others during times of change:

1. Create ‘snackable’ marketing collateral. Workers are being asked to do more with less. Employees are extremely busy and don’t have time to spare. Therefore, when organizations roll out new policies and tools, they need to explain the details in an easy to digest — or ‘snackable’ — format.  As part of a research-based, multi-pronged communication campaign for the Department of Defense Civilian Personnel Management Service, ENC developed a series of engaging posters and tri-fold brochures that raised awareness about new employee health and wellness programs. These materials contained illustrations and text that grabbed employees’ attention and encouraged action. One poster featured an image of a pile of doughnuts with the words “weapons of mass destruction.” A short sentence underneath the image explained the benefits of choosing healthy snacks and where employees could find more information about the wellness program.

2. Create workforce-friendly digital products. The world is going mobile at warp speed. In fact, a Pew study indicates nearly half of all American adults now have smartphones. Therefore, organizations need to ensure that information about internal policies and programs are accessible to staff everywhere and anytime. ENC helped the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (USDA OCIO) create a new website that explains the business information systems that OCIO develops and delivers within the agency. The website featured improved information architecture, a new user interface and enhanced content.  ENC also helped the OCIO migrate the site onto a new open-source content management system. The new system enables OCIO subject-matter experts to manage their own content, which ensures employees within the agency are constantly up-to-date with the office’s policies and programs.

3. Appropriately leverage existing communication channels. To effectively inform workers about new programs, organizations should use communication channels that employees already use. Meet users where they are for the best results. To promote a career development tool for the Department of Veteran Affairs Office of Acquisition and Logistics, ENC conducted a series of interviews with members of the acquisition workforce to determine where they typically go to find information. ENC Strategy then deployed ads and messaging on those channels (and at key events), which helped raise awareness of the tool.

There are many ways to communicate change within an organization. But carefully choosing tactics such as these that align with the new initiative’s (and the organization’s) strategic goals and budget priorities will yield measurable results.

Image courtesy of Flickr user brainbikerider via Creative Commons.

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