In this article, we look at how best to communicate change in a positive way to your downline
The Chinese word for change is made up of two symbols – one for danger and one for opportunity, and that sums up organisational change nicely! Nothing stays the same for ever (even though it may feel like that at times) but it can feel as though some employees need to be dragged kicking and screaming through a change management process. This is because the uncertainty of change IS scary, and people naturally cling to what they know; even if a new way of doing things would be more profitable and increase work satisfaction for them.
It is important therefore that change is communicated in the correct manner in order to minimize frayed nerves and have a cohesive team that are not just thinking about #1 but are genuinely filled with team spirit because it is this that will get company change to the finish line even if there are some stragglers to deal with!
Communicating change to your downline is especially important in a direct selling environment and/or to maximize buy in and this is where change management certification can qualify you to breeze through the process and enable you to head a cohesive team that remains focused and aligned:-
Emphasis the inevitability of change
It may need to be pointed out to staff that they have been dealing with change their entire lives and work is no different. Technology changes, regulations change, the market place changes, people change so try to drive home the point that change is nothing NEW.
People tend to create their own stress by fighting internally to keep the status quo but the energy involved in doing that (and the tension) could be better used to flow and go with the changes in a positive, proactive manner.
Your team may need reminding that they’ve dealt with changes before and then a new status quo was established – just how it will be this time.
Point out that change does not happen overnight
Staff can freak out if they feel like too much is happening too soon. They worry about their ability to cope and keep up with their current workload especially if new procedures have to be learned and followed.
Pointing out that change does not happen overnight can go a long way to soothing troubled emotions. Using the analogy of autumn – even nature takes its time one leaf at a time! Reassuring employees that change will happen incrementally so that they have time to adjust could ironically enable the change to process faster. This is because lots of small steps help to build confidence quickly and increase momentum.
Keep up the speed
Rather like a car; your team may need a few hits of fuel injection to get them going but once a certain level of momentum is achieved – it is important to keep your foot on the accelerator and keep it going because staff that are busy and focused have less chance to resist the changes taking place. When change happens; our power lies not in reacting and complaining and dragging our feet but by recognizing that we have the power to choose how to respond so it can be helpful to use similar terminology in the office to keep everyone positive and motivated.
Picture what success looks like
You need clear goals for your team to aim for and they also need a clear idea of the prizes they will achieve even if that prize is “just” being able to keep their job! Change management is not just implemented during positive times to increase growth but during difficult times to achieve stability and avoid negative repercussions of difficult times such as redundancy.
Because change can happen for a mixture of reasons; employees will experience a mixture of emotions depending on the “filter” they process the experience through. Some will be distressed, some will be excited, some will be ambivalent and some will experience a mixture of all 3!
Clear and honest communication that tells it how it is (with empathy) and focuses on what can be gained rather than what feels to be lost helps to keep everyone on track and moving forward.
Suggestions on how to communicate change
It is of upmost importance therefore to put a positive yet honest spin on the necessity of change for the overall good of the company and its employees. It is also of upmost importance to hit the ground running and keep up the speed of the transition at a comfortable yet steady pace as your team works towards a clear outcome. Communicating change is a fluid, two way process that goes downline as well as upline; where feedback should be encouraged and constructive criticism taken on the chin. A change management expert can advise you on how to communicate change but here are some general suggestions:-
- Prepare emails to send to your downline either once a day or one a week depending on the amount of material that needs covering.
- Include all relevant contact details for downline and upline contacts
- Call or speak personally to all those you are responsible for once a week throughout the change process
- Ensure everyone has the relevant literature and information throughout the change process
- Create a team website with messaging to create a strong group connection.
- Make sure a good rapport is established with staff who are immediately under you in the chain of command/supply. Everyone should be communicated with respectfully and honestly; no matter their position in the chain but it will be your next of line who will also be responsible for communicating your information and instructions to them.
- Offer incentives to the entire group throughout the change management process. This will help to boost morale and keep it boosted. You can’t go wrong with impromptu huddles sharing coffee and cake either!
- Recognise personal events such as birthdays. Everyone loves a little bit of fuss even if they protest otherwise!