Communication strategies

Effective communication is critical to the successful implementation of change initiatives.

Regular,clear communication about the change is essential; messages should be easy to read, user-friendly, informative and relevant to the audience.

Throughout the change process there should be opportunity for dialogue so that suggestions and feedback can be provided.


Key things to consider when communicating change

  • Consistent, timely, honest, accurate communication.
  • Explain the vision, plans, anticipated benefits and progress of the change initiative.
  • Capture and address questions and issues (promptly!).
  • Aim to maximise participation in the change process by involving employees.
  • Constantly reinforce common themes and messages.
  • Encourage discussion and dialogue about the change.
  • Adapt communications strategies as needed in order to address and resolve unforeseen issues.
  • Adapt the communication to the audience.
  • Ensure that the communication is effective - check for understanding and ask if further explanation / information is required (is the message that is heard the same one that is given?).

Key things to consider when creating a communication plan for a change initiative

  • What do you need to communicate?
  • With who do you need to communicate?
  • How you will generate awareness of the proposed change(rationale, expected benefits etc)
  • How you will educate & engage people?
  • What do you want to accomplish with the change and how you can use communications to assist with this?

Understanding your audience

  • Who are they?
  • What do they know/understand already?
  • What drives/motivates them?
  • What questions / concerns might they have?
  • What tools/channels will you use to communicate(see table below)
  • Who is the primary contact for employee questions /concerns?

Leaders of change

The person leading the change has a critical role to play; they should:

  • provide a clear vision & explanation for the change - the rationale, possible impacts & expected benefits
  • send consistent and supportive messages
  • model the behaviours expected of others
  • provide regular updates during consultation and implementation stages
  • be open to feedback and suggestions, consider comments/suggestions and respond
  • consider what communication will work best for delivery of the message; face to face,email etc.

Communication methods - pros & cons

Category Method Advantages Disadvantages
Mass Communications
  • Email
  • Intranet postings
  • Memos
  • Newsletters
  • Video conferences
  • Webcasts
  • Cost-effective
  • Efficient
  • Scalable
  • Impersonal
  • Employees may not read mass communications
  • Do not facilitate two-way communication and feedback
  • Information dump
Interactive Communications
  • E-mail addresses for Q&A or web site pages  devoted to Q&A
  • Online chats or discussion boards
  • Telephone hotlines
  • Employees can ask questions anonymously
  • Scalable
  • Facilitate two-way communication and feedback
  • Impersonal
  • More costly than mass communications
  • More time intensive than mass communications
Face-to-face communications
  • Brown-bag lunches 
  • Meetings
  • Forums town hall
  • Information and training sessions
  • Employees receive information directly from
  • managers
  • Enables live Q&A
  • Leaders and managers can reinforce the importance of the initiative
  • Personal
  • Time consuming
  • Ineffective for reaching dispersed workforces
  • Executive involvement may discourage employee questions


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