change management and communication

So you’re making a change and have to communicate to a large staff group – how tempting is it to do this by email, newsletter or minutes? It is easier, quicker and avoids confusion or so the thinking goes.

If you’ve ever been guilty of adopting this approach you might be interested that it sometimes creates more problems instead it is better to …communicate with purpose and don’t rush

Well of course our time is precious and we should use it wisely! DUH this is self-evident but it doesn’t and shouldn’t dictate how we choose to communicate with others.

Don’t make all your decisions based on the importance of your time when choosing how you get in contact and share a change intitiative with others. Getting your message across clearly and unambiguously is as important, if not more so, than saving time.

time pressure in change management

Before we revert to electronic or written messaging as a default in communicating change think about what we loose from face to face discussion.

Take extra care in choosing your words

When we communicate with someone we only have a casual relationship with we have to remember that they have no background from which to infer meaning or context to your words.

Two studies have shown that if those receiving our ‘written’ messages’ don’t know us or the context of our message they will “fill in the gaps with stereotypes and potential faulty guesses”.

So while it is quicker and easier to send an email or notice it is better to consider spending that time in direct conversation.

It might be useful instead to use a consider the following quesitons when deciding to use electronic versus face to face communication – one author suggests we ask ourselves the following questions

  1. Is it important for you to gauge the response of your audience to ‘modulate’ you message?
  2. Are you looking to develop or build on a relationship?
  3. Is there a conflict or problem that requires a resolution?
  4. Is the issue being explored complex or intricate in nature?
  5. Are you wanting to persuade, get commitment or buy in to your cause?

And I have added the following to the list.

  • Where ever you can consider supplementing written communications with face to face discussions.

A hierarchy of communication options

Yet others suggest we consider our communication options as a hierarchy and choose the option that best suits are need.

“E-mail is great for scheduling and confirming meetings, phone is good for quick conversations that require two-way communications and a memo is preferred for long background pieces. In-person and scheduled meetings are always the best for any discussion requiring true dialogue and consensus.”

Change is complicated! So lets take every opportunity to talk to each other

In managing change ace to face discussions are important in building a shared understanding and commitment to the change.

When we meet and talk with each other we involve the art of ‘turn taking’ which is important for social interactions and lets us know that our message is getting received. We are also building ‘brain synchronization‘ between those involved.

Research from the Human Dynamics Laboratory suggests that when we meet face to face the quality and number of the ideas generated increases. So somehow the process of meeting, talking and engaging is a predictor of our productivity.

The process also leads to more trust

 “The more team members directly interact with each other face-to-face, and the more they trust other team members, the more creative and of higher quality the result of their teamwork is.”

All of these elements are core to introducing and managing change – so my prescription is meet often and seek input in small or large, formal or informal ways throughout a change management process.

Have fun also.

You might also enjoy these earlier articles

About the author – Helen Attrill, MBA

Hi, Just a bit about myself – I have over 26 years as a leader in the aged care and not for profit sector and have led the successful implementation of significant sector, profession and organisational change.

If you’re struggling with some aspect of change management or frustrated with your progress then maybe I can help please feel free to contact me by emailing me at

I can also help with a range of other executive expertise when time has got the better of you and your executive team – ask me if you need to ‘bridge a gap’.

To find out more about my work visit Meet Helen page.A