Change sparks questions — and as a leader, people are looking to you for answers. When communicating with your team during a major change or business transformation, it’s important to communicate with clarity and empathy to build understanding and commitment. You may need to adjust your typical communication approach to support your team — and may find yourself having to respond to tough questions and negative reactions. Above all, you’ll need to create a climate of trust and safety that supports your team in becoming active change agents.
6 Keys to Communicating Through Change
- Explain why — Ensure that you’re able to clearly explain the change and why it’s important.
- Make space — People need to let go of old, familiar ways before they can adopt new ones. Be crystal clear about what’s changing and when, and then give people time and space to adapt.
- Show and tell — Your behavior is a form of communication, and actions speak louder than words, so be careful that your actions and words line up. When they do — you build trust. When they don’t — trust erodes.
- Encourage dialogue — Effective communication is two-way. Solicit feedback, whether you’re communicating live or virtually. Ask good questions and pay attention to not only what people are saying, but to nonverbal cues as well, to get the full message.
- Build engagement through accomplishment — Set intermediate goals to help you achieve the larger change and to build momentum and progress. Listen and coach the team to help them create solutions that they own and to find personal “whys” to support the change. As the team adjusts to the new way of working, show appreciation and share positive feedback.
- Actively manage yourself — Leaders are people too, and need to process change just like everyone else! Make time and space to work through your own emotions, and be honest with yourself about your current mental state.