Communicate your plans

lindaSeptember is just around the corner. I don’t know about you, but to me, September is the real start of the year. I think it’s because it’s the traditional start of the school year … and when school starts, everything goes back to “normal.”

In business, September is also when many companies begin their budgeting activities for the next fiscal year. And budgeting means reflecting on the past, planning for the future, and (horrors!) making changes! This year, because of the economy, you may find yourself planning more changes than in the past. You won’t be alone. The country may not be officially in a recession, but it feels like it. So, doing what you have always done to grow (or even merely to sustain) your business may not be enough. You may find it necessary to make changes in the way you do business.

Change is never easy for people to accept. No one wants to tighten their belt, do more, or do things differently. To get your team members to agree to change will require their buying into whatever you have in mind. Experts agree that the best way to deal with change is through communication. In fact, it’s almost impossible to over-communicate.

Some ways in which you can communicate your plans (and change) include:

  • One-on-one meetings,

  • Town hall meetings,

  • Bulletin boards,

  • E-mails,

  • Intranets,

  • Memos, and

  • Newsletters.

The key to communicating change is simple: Say it, say it again, and then say it again. And once you do that, do it all over again.

Also important: Use different approaches. People “hear” in different ways. Some people learn better by listening. Others learn faster by reading. If you use only one method of communication, some of your employees may miss your message.

Here is a communication strategy you might consider:

1. Hold a town hall meeting to announce plans.

2. Communicate the same message in your newsletter (either print or e-mail or both).

3. Post the message on bulletin boards.

4. Talk to individuals one-on-one about their roles in the change.

5. As you near the time to implement the change, regularly remind employees through e-mails and bulletin-board memos.

6. Once you have put the change into place, update everyone via all media — e-mail, memos, bulletin boards, intranets and newsletters.

7. Keep everyone up-to-date on progress — tell them about pitfalls as well as advances.

If you keep to a policy of “no surprises,” your employees will accept change more easily.

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

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