Change management

Importance of communication in change management


Planning and communication are critical for organisational change. Getting top management support in implementing change can significantly improve your chances of success.

Planning organisational change

Planning for any business change will help you to ensure that changes happen the way you want them to and that you identify and control the costs of your project. To plan your organisational change effectively, you should:

  • Prepare early. Take time to understand the existing situation, the cause of issues and the need for change, and what the expected impact of the change may be. Follow the tried and tested change management process and models.
  • Be flexible. Assess and agree priorities but don't feel you can't change them if your circumstances change. Follow change management principles to help keep your project on track.
  • Assess and manage risks. Identify potential problems and barriers to organisational change and find ways to overcome them.
  • Draw an organisational chart. This may help you to understand existing processes, workflows and lines of authority. Remember to update the chart if you change your business organisational structure.
  • Develop a vision. Take a long-term view of how the change will affect the company and its competitive position. Communicating this vision can be a great motivator for your staff. See how to lead and motivate your staff.
  • Set objectives. These will help you to measure the success of the change.
  • Plan resources, assign tasks and schedule timing for the change. Assess and identify all the possible costs of change.
  • Plan your communication strategy. Consider ways you will communicate the change to your employees - it demonstrates commitment if the managing director or chief executive talks personally to employees.
  • Monitor and evaluate. Review the progress regularly against the objectives and make adjustments if circumstances change.

Role of communication in organisational change

Ongoing communication and employee engagement are vital. Meet managers and employees regularly to explain the reasons for the change, how it will be carried out and how it will affect them. Tackle rumours head-on. Make sure that managers operate an 'open door' policy to any employees who may have questions.

Talk to suppliers, partners and customers as well, and keep them informed of any changes that could affect them. Try to give this information as far ahead as possible.

Consulting employees about the change

Depending on the nature of change, you may need to comply with the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations.

Under the regulations, employees can request that you set up formal arrangements to inform and consult them on a range of key issues, including:

  • the economic situation of the business
  • job prospects
  • major changes in how work is organised

At least 15 employees or 10 per cent of employees, whichever number is greater, must make the request for a formal agreement. The regulations only apply to businesses with 50 or more employees.

If you are planning redundancies as part of your organisational change, you must comply with relevant legislation.