Recently I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – an absolutely electrifying two-part play that opened in London’s West End in 2016 and is still running. I saw the production in Melbourne, where it’s playing exclusively until at least July 2020.
The show took me back to the magic and mystery of J.K. Rowling’s books and subsequent films and the lessons hidden in the wisdom of Dumbledore, Harry, Hermione, Hagrid, Ron, Professor McGonagall and even Malfoy, Snape and Voldemort. So I've collected 9 quotes to help you communicate change. Keep them in mind for the next time you need some advice, and let me know in the comments if there are any I’ve missed.
#1: Be clear about what's changing and why
Telling people about a change isn’t enough; they need to know why the change is needed, what the benefits are for them and the organisation, and how it might impact on them personally.
#2: Communicate openly and honestly
Avoid secrets or surprises wherever possible. Communication should be authentic and honest. Although people don’t like bad news, they prefer it to not knowing the truth. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your employees can’t handle the truth.
#3: Give people time to prepare
Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Change is the only constant in life”. But organisations don’t change, people do. It’s essential then, to give individuals time to prepare for the change emotionally, psychologically and even physically.
#4: Create conversations not monologues
People support what they help to create. Give your employees a voice by creating genuine opportunities for people to share their concerns, ask questions, provide their feedback, and submit their ideas.
#5: Consider the emotional impact of change
Change takes people on an emotional journey; it can be confronting, intimidating, exciting or rewarding. Instead of seeking to prevent people from experiencing emotions, your strategic communication activities should enable people to move through their emotional journey as quickly as possible.
#6: Tell people what's in it for them
Identify what your audience needs to think, feel and do as a result of your communication. Timely, relevant, clear and consistent communication during change can make a significant difference to the duration and success of any change process.
#7: Help leaders become better communicators
Leaders should be visible and accessible during times of change, and play an important role in keeping employees informed and addressing their concerns. Help leaders to identify with their communication role and equip them with the appropriate tools to share information in a consistent and effective way.
#8: Get to know your people
Identify those who have a ‘stake’ in what is happening and seek to deepen your understanding of them by examining their needs. Look at demographics, geographics, psychographics, job type, function and level, and use this information to group your audience and stakeholders into meaningful groups. One size does not fit all, and this is especially true during change.
#9: Don't underestimate the power of the grapevine
Communication should be proactive. If the rumour mill is already in action, you’ve waited too long to communicate. Grapevines sabotage communication and should not be taken lightly. They exist when there is an information vacuum, little communication and limited opportunities for employees to contribute to the conversation. But when communication is timely and relevant, there is less likelihood that employees will pay attention to hearsay.