We can all agree that effective communication is critical to change management efforts. In fact, change practitioners have named it a top contributor to project success in Prosci's Best Practices in Change Management research for more than 20 years. Unfortunately, during times of change organizations often develop and execute communications plans without regard for a change management framework or perspective. Certainly, communications serve an important purpose in project management and other processes, but change management communications differ from these communications in significant ways.
A communications plan that is not part of a bigger change management approach usually won't produce positive results toward managing the people side of change. Instead, such plans result in a telling plan rather than a communications plan. Effective change management communications must target a particular audience, share why the change is happening, address their specific concerns, and meet them where they are in the change process. The timing, content and sender of the messages are also important during change.
Here's what makes change management communications plans uniquely effective:
The Communications Plan used in change management has a very specific intent, focus, frequency, methods and senders. When organizations develop communications plans without change management, difficulties arise in each of these areas, and can sabotage project success.
If you are communicating without change management, the checklist below can help. While it is not a substitute for a holistic change management approach, it can be useful for aligning your communications with effective change management techniques.
When project teams say they already have a communications plan for project changes, we often find that they have developed a plan to tell others in the organization about their work, their progress and their plans. But telling plans like this usually don't lead to successful outcomes during change. Instead, aligning your communications with a reliable change management framework helps you avoid negative consequences while setting you up for change success.
Tim Creasey is Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer and a globally recognized leader in change management. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.
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