Change is often necessary in business, but it could be a scary prospect to your team. How you choose to communicate change to them could be the difference between a smooth transition and a bumpy future. Before breaking any big news, collect yourself and make sure you’re ready for what lies ahead.
This should go without saying, but when you tell your employees about an adjustment, you should do so clearly. Susan M. Heathfield of The Balance stresses that clarity is key to making sure no one misunderstands your message. Besides just stating the change itself, you should also consider communicating the research behind the change and goals of it. This way, the team knows that, while it might be difficult, the adjustment serves business objectives and ultimate group success. If you don’t relay why you’re making a change, Heathfield warns that your staff will probably fill in the blanks with their own stories, which tend to be negative.
Big changes in your business should drive it toward bigger and better accomplishments. When you tell your team about modification, Carol Kinsey Gorman of Forbes suggests laying out how you will be measuring success. Achieving your benchmarks — whether they’re increased profits, better client retention or better time use— lets you and your staff know that their hard work has done what it’s supposed to. On the flip side, outlining what you consider a win following this change helps employees track their personal performance to make sure they’re on the right path.
Give them resources
Once you tell your team what’s coming, it’s essential to give them the tools needed to accomplish your new goals. As a leader, that means gauging what each change needs before you roll it out, according to Elsbeth Johnson with the Harvard Business Review. For example, if your change is a move to a new facility, you should designate senior team members to organize the process, provide boxes to pack supplies and relay a time frame for the move to take place. You can clearly tell your team that you’re moving and say you’ll consider it successful when the old space is empty, but if you give them no tools, you’re setting them up for failure.
Even if you’re the one in charge, communication should always be a two-way street when it comes to change. Heathfield cautions that when you unveil new things to your team, it should feel less like a presentation and more like a conversation. While that could lead to difficult questions, your planning should prepare you to answer them. Above all, avoid getting defensive or making excuses, as this can frustrate your staff. If you give thoughtful answers, they are more likely to respect your decisions.
In addition to answering questions when you unveil a major change, make sure you provide a way for your team to give feedback and get clarification after the meeting. Heathfield recommends providing easy channels, like open office hours or email, so your team feels more involved in what’s happening and you can soothe any negative conceptions as quickly as possible.
Change isn’t always easy, but communicating it properly to your team is a step in the right direction.