Communications: Going Back to the Basics

As school begins, it’s a good reminder for all of us grown-up kids to get back to the basics. Clear and effective communications are critical to helping people through a change. As we manage change, we should not expect people to do things differently if they were not aware of new expectations in the first place. I know I’m stating the obvious here, but sometimes we need a reminder of the immense importance of communications in managing change. We do everything we can to deliver the best communications possible to our stakeholders, though at times, we miss the mark.

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There are tons of tips and tricks on the internet to help improve communications, and it can be overwhelming to distill it all down. One of my favorite recent articles is Tim Creasey’s, 5 Tips for Better Communication Around Change, where he talks about communications that “…focus on the right people at the right times and in the right ways.” That is actually one the Pivot hallmarks we share in our new video (if you haven't seen it yet, check it out here). Tim offers five great tips about better communicating change that we all should be doing on EVERY change project!

Here are two that resonate with me the most: 

  • ‘Structure your efforts’ - Some of the biggest communication mistakes I have seen clients make are due to sending communications without a structure (and written plan) in place to make sure messaging, resources and timing are purposeful and coordinated. Don’t make the mistake of rushing to get the first communication out just because a project is starting, or an executive asked for it. Plan, coordinate and send with a purpose.

  • ‘Answer the questions people have’ - As communications and messaging get drafted, we do our best to include relevant content but can misstep if we do not think about what is important to our audience. Think about the most pertinent questions people may have about the change and be sure to answer those questions. Remember to tell them not just what you think they need to know, but also what they WANT to know!

And, here is one that I would add:

  • ‘Do not overcomplicate it’ - We all know big words and concepts. No need to throw those into communications meant for large audiences. We are lucky if people take five minutes to read our communications...it’s more likely a 30-second scan. The key to getting the information understood is making sure it is easy to digest at a glance. Keep it simple.

No matter your role or experience, these tips are a good foundation for ensuring your change communications are effective tools in helping your organization navigate change. There is much more to be discovered, and we are all on the learning journey, even if we aren’t in school. Have some tips to share? We want to hear them!

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Ross Pringle
Pivot Organizational Change and Communications