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Communicating Change Inside and Outside the Tribe

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Communicating change inside and outside your tribe (think group, unit, family, organization, volunteers) ensures that everyone is on the same page, understands the need for the change, and is committed to the change.

When change affects only one person, a private discussion with that person is often sufficient; if it affects a team or tribe, then a meeting (or several meetings) is required. Versatility is essential to successfully communicate change from one person to another and from one team construct to another. With widespread, organizational change, resistance may originate internally but it can quickly spread to business partners, vendors, and customers. Therefore, organization-wide change requires a high level of both internal and external communications.

So whether your change is individual, team, tribe, or an entire organization, the following communication steps are essential to have.

Internal Communications During Change

Successful internal communication depends on:

  • Reliable, easily accessed technology dedicated to communication; for example, an intranet, group chat,  shared calendars, and message boards.
  • Bringing in the people directly affected by change early on in the decision-making process so their voice can be heard.
  • Recognizing the power of rumor and the need to follow the C’s of Communication.
  • Versatility in communication to keep information relevant to different people, groups, functions, and business units.
  • Tracking and measuring the effect of communications and making adjustments as needed.

Note: Clearly the above criteria can be met only if change is communicated at every level of authority, leadership, power, and title within the tribe. Each group serves a different purpose and point in the process of change management. Understanding Hierarchical Communications in Change provides an essential roll-out needed to gain employee commitment. Go through ways to communicate more effectively with your employees with our SMaRT Tool, Team Communication.

Internal Communication in 7 Steps

Change in tribes are happening more often, faster than ever, and are more complex than ever before. This is why it’s vital to have a consistent standard of communicating change each and every time. Consistency is key to building trust with all tribe members, especially when it comes to change management.

  1. Communicate the Why with brutal honestly and complete transparency. Hold nothing back. They’re are part of your tribe for a reason; they can handle what you put in front of them.
  2. Provide specifics with compassion and empathy on how it will affect them. Proactively acknowledging the impact of change shows you get the world from their perspective. It increases their ability to have two-way conversations.
  3. Have a predictable and reliable change process. When people have predictability and reliability at it reduces their stress while increasing trust and loyalty.
  4. Invite them to be active participants in all aspects of the process. The more they can be in it, the more they understand and own the results.
  5. Provide ample time to process all of the information. Leaders clearly had days or weeks to process, plan, document, and accept the change. Announcing something and expecting tribe members to accept in the moment is unfair. The bigger the change, the wider the timeframe everyone needs to get on board.
  6. Have a communication, follow-up plan with two-way strategies. Free-flow dialogues will move the change forward with fewer roadblocks.
  7. Listen and keep listening. Members have incredible insight and they often have ideas that support, enhance, and create positive change.

Tip : In an organization, documenting your “Change Process” and making it part of your training material will elevate your teams’ abilities to look for opportunities of growth. Growth is change and training people to actively look for it will naturally elevate your organization.

External Communications During Change

Internal changes may affect extended family, neighbors, business partners, vendors, and customers through resulting changes in pricing, products or services, supply chains, and priorities. Part of managing change is anticipating those outside impacts as much as possible.

Successful external communication depends on:

  • Coordination with other units: HOA, siblings, teachers, coaches, marketing, public relations, and the executive suite through a designated spokesperson are examples of other units to consider in your external plan.
  • A clear and uniform message that goes out through multiple channels to reach the external people affected.
  • Good timing; you don’t want the rumor mill starting before you have your message ready.
  • Consideration of how to alleviate the burden for outside units.

Key Takeaways

Communicating change takes planning and precision. Knowing the order of whom to communicate to, following specific steps, and engaging with external channels will determine the success of the change process. 

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