Getting any project, big or small, over the finish line can be difficult. And it’s heartbreaking to see everything going right on a project only for it to falter at roll-out. Change Management is the best way to make sure the projects you’re working on achieve their full potential.
Axsium developed our Change Management methodology over years of experience delivering high-impact WFM projects for clients around the world. We break it down into four major pillars:
This month, we’re looking at a part of project delivery that may seem small but has an enormous impact on your success: communication.
The Importance of Communication
We all communicate in one way or another every day. But that commonality has a downside: it tends to make people take communication for granted—especially in Change Management.
When you’re rolling out a project, no matter the size, the message you’re communicating is vital. This is true whether you’re rolling out a whole new WFM solution or a new way of taking stock. But there’s something that’s even more important: how you’re communicating the message.
Planning for Communications Success
So, your project will be ready to launch soon and you’re planning your roll-out. The first thing you need to understand is the mediums you’ll be using to send and receive communications to and from all your stakeholders.
Knowing how people will be hearing from you, and how they’ll be able to get in touch, is a good first step in deciding how to craft your messages. Of course, email is an obvious candidate, but the way you write a message for email is different to a message you would send over a mobile WFM platform, for example.
Once you’ve identified all the ways you’ll be communicating with your stakeholders, start to pre-define your key messages. A unified approach to communicating the key elements of your change across these mediums will help you head confusion off at the pass. Think about what will be changing and the impact it will likely have.
Finally, think about your schedule. The chances are different stakeholder groups will need to know different things at different times as you start to roll-out. So, build a preliminary schedule with milestones marked out so you can start thinking about who needs to know what when.
It’s All About Content
Once you’ve done your communications planning, the next step is simple: content, content, content! Big changes often need a lot of communication. But don’t worry if that sounds overwhelming—you’ve already done a lot of the work in the previous step.
You have your key messages, and you know the mediums you’ll be using to communicate them. So now all you need to do is get writing. This isn’t a blog on how to write, but you can find many tutorials out there. And you’ll likely have a colleague with the skills to help. The important thing is that you remember to be clear, focused, and action-oriented in your writing.
Also, your leaders will need some support. You’ll likely have at least one organizational leader helping with your communications, be it a section in a CEO townhall or emails from relevant VPs. Keep in mind that leaders tend to be busy with multiple important projects at the same time. Give them the support they need to get your messages across as effectively as possible.
Finally, don’t be afraid to double dip. Repetition is no bad thing in communications. In fact, sending the same messaging out using different mediums can be a great way to ensure everyone understands what’s happening.
Delivering the Message
It’s time to start getting ready to deliver your communications. We’ll start where we left off in the last section. Find trusted names within the organization that can be the face of your roll-out.
But it’s not just about having the right person as the face of your change. You also need to know the people who’ll be receiving the message. What time are they most likely to be receptive? Have you picked a medium they’ll be most likely to engage with? These are important questions to ask yourself.
Also, don’t forget to make feedback an important part of your delivery. Every communication you send out should have the option for your stakeholders to provide feedback. And, because it’s important for any project, make sure to track every measurable bit of data you can. This ranges from hard metrics like email opens, installs, and daily usage to more qualitative feedback. KPIs will play a large part in your success.
And be ready to pivot if, for instance, it becomes clear that your chosen medium isn’t drumming up enough engagement.
Tactical Communication Examples
In each blog in our Change Management series, we’ll use the example of our two fictional grocers, We Sell Tomatoes and We Sell Potatoes. We Sell Tomatoes is using the Axsium Change Management methodology. We Sell Potatoes is not.
We Sell Tomatoes and We Sell Potatoes have begun planning their project roll-out communications. They both know they’ll need to communicate to their stakeholders as part of the roll-out, but they’re taking very different approaches.
We Sell Tomatoes has gone through the steps Axsium recommends, assisted by a Change Management specialist. They’ve spent some time defining their key messages and are going to send these messages out via email, include them in daily huddles, and post them in all staff rooms. And the Chief Operations Officer has agreed to talk about the change in an upcoming townhall.
The project team begins to draft content well ahead of time, being careful to feature an opportunity to provide feedback in every message. They’ve built a good approval process into the schedule and made space in the roll-out milestones for messages for each stakeholder at the time that will be best for them.
While We Sell Potatoes also identified they need to send out an email and post a message in staff rooms, they’ve only written one communication. They’re planning to have stores print off an all-company email and post it in their staff rooms. And their project manager, unknown to most in the organization, will be the face of the roll-out.
When We Sell Tomatoes release their messages about the roll-out, they have a great impact. From the COO giving the company a preview of what’s changing to the subsequent communications, everything finds its audience. And because We Sell Tomatoes has provided so many opportunities for feedback, one of their back-room workers is able to identify an element of the roll-out they’d missed.
We Sell Potatoes put much less work into their planning and content development. As a result, many of their staff don’t get the message. Part of the problem is that the project lead, despite being a very nice person, isn’t very well known in the company. So, when that name appears at the top of the communications, many of the staff don’t take any notice.
Of course, the single communication stretched across two mediums is also a problem. Because only one email comes out, many people don’t read it. And the printed copy of the email in the staff room doesn’t catch many eyes. As a result, far too few people know about the change when it happens, causing significant problems down the line.
ADKAR methodology is designed to help organizational changes succeed by ensuring employees understand and buy into the change. Keeping everyone informed is such an important to making sure your roll-out goes as planned.
So, ADKAR is focused on making sure employees know what is happening and equipping leaders to engage stakeholders effectively during the change. ADKAR gives leaders the strategies and tools they need and individuals information and motivation.
ADKAR specialists do this by attempting to achieve the five pillars that make up ADKAR’s name. Awareness of the need for change. Design to participate and support the change. Knowledge on how to change. Ability to implement desired skills and behaviors. And Reinforcement to sustain the change and benefits.
Communication is a central part of achieving Change Management success. And while it may seem to be one of the easier tasks on your list, it takes time and work to do well.
Axsium’s Change Management experts have led many project roll-out communications. They know how to get the message out in a way that gets the best out of your team. Contact us to learn more about how we can support and guide your efforts.
And look out for next month’s blog, where we’ll be talking about training.