Communication is one aspect we always see in change management plans. But how effective is your communication? Are you hitting the mark? Do people believe and understand your key change messages? We recommend collecting change management data through a communication assessment tool to make sure you really understand how effective your communication is.
Communication can make or break a change management project
In our experience, people can get confused about the purpose of communication in change. The primary use of communication in change is to create clarity. You have to ensure that everyone at least understands what you are trying to achieve.
Well-planned communication can also help people feel positive about a change and lessen the impact of resistance. The reverse is also true: poorly planned or executed communication will cause or heighten resistance.
Your job as a change leader is to ensure you understand – and have the change data on - whether your communication strategy is working. And if it is not, to make changes as early as possible.
Some of the key questions you should be considering:
- How are people perceiving the key messages: remember that their frame of reference is different from yours
- Is the message getting to the right people at the right time: just because you sent a timely email does not mean that your audience read it
- Do people trust what is being said: credibility of the source is essential
- Is there an opportunity for two-way dialogue: one-way communication rarely works
The only way to find out how effective your communication strategy is, is to gather data from people being affected by the change. Having conversations with your whole audience is not a time-effective way to gather feedback (unless your scope is a small team). Plus, some people feel more comfortable giving honest feedback through a short online questionnaire, potentially anonymously.
One benefit of capturing feedback in a quantitative manner is that you have a good source of unambiguous change data. Use this data to help to identify how to adjust your approach to increase the effectiveness of your change management communications.
A change impact assessment tool: focused on communication
The Change Management Effectiveness Assessment (CEA) is a tool we use to identify how effective communications are in any given change management project. Consisting of 12 questions, the tool asks respondents to provide an answer based on their own experiences, knowledge, and feelings.
The CEA provides you with data on what gaps there are in your communication strategy: from the perception of leaders’ trustworthiness when communicating to the content and methods used; to how much of your message was understood.
Used early, and at regular intervals, change leaders can use the assessment results to help tailor their communication strategy, and coach the sponsors, to overcome potential resistance and mitigate people-risks.
The CEA assessment can also be used at the tail end of a change project to gather the change data to help you understand what went well, and what didn’t go so well, with the project’s communication strategy. Use these findings to improve in future projects.