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  • Jessica Ovadia

The 4-Step Change Management Strategy

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

Communicating during a challenge requires a malleable messaging strategy - flexible yet reliable.

As fall fades to winter, the focus of organizations tends to shift from growth to goal setting and business modifications. During this time, the desire for change can feel as palpable as the delicious scent of a pumpkin spice latte.

And while change is an objective move from point A to point B, depending on the circumstances and stakeholders impacted, it can elicit positive, negative or neutral ripples in culture and outcomes.

The Change Management Challenge

Contraction: As companies contract, whispers of layoffs and professional impact fester. Often - but not always - these changes support the mission to recalibrate and strengthen the bottom line. Those affected, however, struggle to see beyond the chaos. Here, the challenge for leadership is to describe and justify the change while communicating empathy and support.

Investor Communication: Whether a startup anticipating FDA approval or a Medtech company experiencing manufacturing delays, communicating a vision with transparency is difficult. How do you choose your pitch deck and investor memo language? What do you share? How do you reframe? All leaders encounter challenges and you must be ready to manage them.

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): M&A activity has the potential to maximize impact and promote growth in new markets. This growth-based change is exhilarating yet, generally requires an adjustment period coupled with organized communication. A company’s expansion might involve new hires, evolved practices and streamlined systems (billing, clinical decision support, discharge procedures). Regardless of the specifics, individuals will be required to change patterns and behaviors and therefore, to successfully work through the change, a solid communication strategy is a MUST.

On the other side of challenge lies opportunity. So, whether tightening your team, working through a challenge or evolving a business strategy, deliberately build your change management strategy.

The 4-Step Change Management Strategy

1. Who - When communicating a change, it is critical to recruit influencers who can help facilitate a smooth transition. These individuals assist in the dissemination of information to the team and provide a ‘boots on the ground’ approach to help leadership adjust strategy as needed.

2. When - When shepherding your team through a change, timing is everything.

The earlier the better - The earlier you communicate the challenge, the better it will be received. For example, sharing news at the end of the week - Friday - feeds the weekend rumor mill. Get ahead of the whispers by sharing information at the start of the week - with multiple touch points throughout.

Frequency - Absorbing news is personal and unique to each stakeholder. Be sure to communicate consistently, while offering your stakeholders the time they need to process and consider implications. A consistent, yet periodic, communication technique will reassure your audience, even through times of uncertainty.

Follow up - When communicating details of a complex change, summarizing the information is critically important. Consider a recap at the point of initial communication AND after the fact; This offers the audience time to process and consider their questions. Delivering a recap in written form - where applicable - can serve as an excellent resource for those affected or processing the change.

3. What - The best way to evoke trust is by communicating with honesty, integrity, and discretion, or as we like to call it - The Communication Trifecta. Share what you know, admit what you don’t know, share the process and provide resources. Framing challenging information from the right angle will motivate your audience to accept the changes, willingly. The Trifecta is a key element in all leadership communication. For more information, check out our blog post.

4. How - Provide your stakeholders with the resources they need to succeed. Change brings about many questions, and facilitating the answers will help your stakeholders process and prepare. Consider various messaging tactics to suit each stakeholder- paying special attention to their role in the organization and the change. Tactics include oral messaging, FAQ, a written recap, hotlines, resource centers and more.

Facilitate a smooth ride through change with a flexible yet reliable change management strategy.

For guidance, reach out today.

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