Why Clear Communication Is Essential for Change Management

Posted by on March 08, 2017

Why Clear Communication is Essential for Change Management

Unless you're communicating with your constituents, Change Management is a waste of time.

Think I'm overstating the matter? Consider a recent experience I had with a hotel chain I use frequently. After checking out from my stay, I received a double charge. These things happen when you're on the road a lot, but when I called to fix the problem, the hotel's customer service representative tried to convince me that my bill I had received when I checked out and the one that she was looking at were not the same. "How can it be that I am looking at a bill that is different than yours?" I inquired. Then it came...the dreadful response so many of us hate: "We changed the way we bill rooms after you left."

Tweet this: Take the anxiety out of change management--why communicating with your constituents should be your first priority 

A Resistance to Change—But Why?

Just hearing the word "change" seems to cause fear and anxiety. What's behind that reaction? If you're like most people, when you hear the word, you wonder, "What will I have to do differently now?" It's not just the need to shift workflow that causes concern; it's the uncertainty. The people IT Departments work so hard to serve are fearful of any change in the organization, usually because they do not know how it is going to affect them. And, sometimes they are justified in their concern. Consider:

  • Have any changes gone awry in your organization in the last 30 days that have adversely affected your constituents?
  • How many of your changes are unplanned vs. planned, increasing the potential for adverse outcomes?
  • How much communication is there between IT and constituents so they can plan accordingly and have realistic expectations?

The first two questions are dealt with through a solid process and great software. The last one is one that can be easily remedied by IT, regardless of whether they are doing Change Management or not. The real secret to successful Change Management? Communication with your constituents.

Tweet this: Having great communication along with a fool-proof process and great software is the key to change management success

3 Question Your Constituents Have About Change

When it comes to changes, your constituents have questions—if you can answer these three below, in the order listed, it will greatly reduce the anxiety in your organization when it comes to change. Just an email or blog post is enough to dispel your constituents' anxiety.

1. Will this change affect me? This is the first thing constituents want to know. If it doesn't affect them, they'll move on, and if it does, they'll want to know how it'll affect them. Once they understand the impact they can either ignore it (because it's not as big a deal as they thought) or they can explore more in-depth.

2. What exactly can I expect? If a change does affect constituents, they want to know what to expect. Questions like, Will it require work on my part? Will it take a long time? Who will notify me that the change is done? Will there be some challenges when it is completed?

3. How can I stay updated? While constituents value transparency and access to information, it puts them much more at ease if they know how they will be updated or how they can get more info. Constituents may wonder where they can find updates—will IT send them automatically? Should they check the Self-Service Portal? Is a call to the Service Desk required?

If the manager had told me when I was leaving the hotel that there were some changes coming to billing and to keep a lookout for potential issues—as well as providing me with a person to contact if I had questions—our conversation might have turned out differently. Your constituents may not like changes in IT, but they will feel better and have a better perception of IT if IT can be transparent and set healthy expectations.

Next Up: Essential Guide to Change Management

Get a comprehensive overview of the principles of ITIL Change Management

Read the Guide