beth-hilden-small_sept-2015By Beth Hilden

“Change management” is certainly a common term across workplaces everywhere. But what does it really mean? And why should we, as communication professionals, really care?

Think of it this way…

If change management is the tool for helping people transition from a current to a future state, then effective communication is THE critical component of any change plan in ensuring that future state is realized.

Without a solid communication strategy? We’re talking Ginger Rogers without her Fred Astaire.

As a professional change-communication practitioner, perhaps I’m biased. But in my opinion, a well-devised and thoughtfully-implemented communication plan is essential for any organization to achieve its desired change objectives and ROI.

And actually, it’s not just an opinion. Regardless of the amount of communication, studies show target audiences still want more during times of organizational change.

Case in point: When asked what they would have done differently regarding communication, participants in a 2011 study[1] most often cited “more” as their answer. “…They would communicate more, to more people, more often and to all levels within the organization.”

This is not to ignore or undervalue the other essential elements of a good change plan. Assessing change readiness, building sponsorship, anticipating resistance areas – these steps and others are without a doubt also important and necessary.

But no matter your industry or occupation, it shouldn’t be surprising to see research reinforce what we communication pros already know about having an effective, planful communication strategy: It just makes sense. Without it, your change initiative risks failure. Or, at a minimum, a poor rate of adoption, productivity loss, negative customer impact and an unrealized investment.

Bottom line? Don’t do the chicken dance when you really want to cha-cha through your change plan. Engage a trusted change-communication professional to help you reach the objectives of your organization’s change initiative.

[1] Page 152, Best Practices in Change Management, 2016 Edition, 2011 benchmarking survey, ©Prosci, Inc.

Beth Hilden, ABC, is an IABC member and senior consultant with the ROC Group.