Today’s workforce is a melting pot of people from varied ethnic, socioeconomic, and generational backgrounds. Recent grads and Baby Boomers work side by side with a 40-year age gap between them, and they, along with the multitude of generations in between, must prepare for and adapt to an ever-changing business environment where technology continues to evolve at an exponentially rapid rate, and along with it, how we do business in a global economy. This change is not only inevitable, it is biting at our heels every eighteen months, and successful Change Agents are hyperaware of not only the common demographic differences within the employee base, but also of the inherent cognitive diversity of the organization’s culture, which introduces varied mental perspectives on how to solve problems and how to cope with change. Therefore, effectively communicating change initiatives entails a well-structured and customized communication plan that includes tailored yet consistent messaging to connect with each member of the target employee audience.
When communicating changes in processes or introducing new procedures into the workspace, most communication collateral is created by and geared towards the younger generation of workers, often whom are the more tech savvy digital natives who have come to expect and instinctively adapt to rapid and frequent change. Conversely, both seasoned workers and cognitively diverse workers may be slow to adapt to or be downright resistant to change, due to not understanding the reasons for the change (“We’ve always done it this way.”), the new tools and processes required to implement the change (“Why do I have to learn a new system?”), or are unable to make a connection on how the change will positively affect their day to day role (“What’s in it for me? Will I lose my job?”). To combat these challenges, Change Agents in charge of communication planning can implement the following strategies into the formal communication plan to ensure buy in at all levels of the organization.
First, proactively address points of resistance to stop the naysayers in their tracks. At the onset of every change initiative kickoff, and continuously during the implementation, focus on why the change is being made including, what led to the decision to make the change and the negative effects of continuing to do things the same way. To build team cohesion, highlight the value of each employee and the team comradery necessary in attaining success for the organizational change. Second, highlight the benefits of the change for the individual, the team and the organization as a whole. Employees need to feel like they are a part of something bigger, and that their needs are also being considered when growing and improving the organization. Communicate to employees the tangible ways in which they will see improvement in their daily duties as a result of successful change implementation, either with a streamlined process, or by removing non-value added tasks, or by getting to the “wins” of their job faster and more frequently.
"Effective employee communication is key in managing organizational change and thoughtfully done, can ensure and organization’s success and continued growth in today’s rapidly evolving global business landscape"
Finally, ensure employees have the tools and resources they need for successful change implementation. This includes empowering employees with the confidence to speak up, ask questions, suggest improvements and have their voices heard throughout the change process. Employee communication, like all communication, is a two-way street, which entails not only sending out the message but also ensuring that the recipient of the message has understood the communication as it was intended, and also has the opportunity to provide feedback. This feedback is extremely valuable in ascertaining if a change implementation was successful, well-received, and if it is sustainable for the long haul. Effective employee communication is key in managing organizational change and thoughtfully done, can ensure and organization’s success and continued growth in today’s rapidly evolving global business landscape.