To prepare your change for launch, you need to develop a number of plans. Like any project, you will need to develop a project plan that details all of the tasks associated with the change, but in addition to that, you need to develop plans for communicating information, managing resistance, and training employees to adapt to the new ways of working.
The communication plan sets out all of the essential communication activities for the change initiative as well as the strategy for best communicating specific pieces of information. It is an invaluable tool for structuring your communication and ensuring that people are getting the information they need, in the right way and from the right people.
To prepare a communication plan you should:
- Define what information needs to be communicated - Are you announcing the change, providing progress updates, celebrating change successes etc.? What is the key message?
- Define the audience - Who does the information need to be communicated to?
- Define the communication method - There are a variety of methods for communicating information and some are more appropriate than others for certain aspects of the change. For example, a change announcement should be communicated face-to-face, whereas status updates can be communicated via email.
- Define who will communicate the information - Wherever possible, ensure that information about the change is communicated through people that the audience respect and see as credible.
- Set the date and frequency - When does the information need to be communicated? And if it is to be repeated, how often? (E.g. weekly status updates).
Tips for announcing a change initiative
- Do it face-to-face - Studies have shown that communicating face-to-face about the benefits and issues of the change is a powerful strategy in building support for change.
- Announce it to everyone at the same time - Ensure that everyone hears accurate information about the change at the same time, from the sources you intend. Otherwise you risk the spread of rumours and misinformation.
- Address key concerns to build change readiness - Ensure that the people delivering the message are tooled up with all of the information they need to build change readiness. See the topic 'Managing change' for more details.
Resistance is an inevitable part of change and is an obstacle that needs to be overcome in order for change to be successful. Rather than being reactive and dealing with resistance when it comes up, you can proactively plan for resistance and develop strategies for managing it from the outset.
To prepare a resistance plan, you should:
- Identify areas of resistance - Refer to your stakeholder analysis and review which groups are likely to be impacted by the change. Review the key reasons for resistance and determine which groups falls into these categories.
- Determine the activities for managing resistance - Determine what activities you can engage in to counter potential resistance in these groups (e.g. presentations, feedback sessions, consultation etc.). If any of these activities are communication activities, you should also include them in your communication plan.
Most changes require some sort of training and coaching to help people acquire the knowledge and skills that they need to adapt to new ways of working.
A training plan sets out who needs to be trained in what, and when. A training plan is also an effective tool in managing resistance as this information can be communicated to employees to reassure them that they will receive the support they need to adopt the change.
To prepare a training plan, you need to define:
- What - What are people being trained in?
- Who - Who needs to take part in the training?
- When - When is the training occurring?