Johanna Tynkkynen: TOP 5 change communications mistakes

It does not matter if the change is small or big, the same mistakes are repeated in change communications over and over again.

1. Hush-hush

We often want to communicate about the change only when everything is ready and clear. Before that, there is a total silence and questions are avoided. This does not make the situation better but on the contrary, it makes it worse. People are thirsty for knowledge, so it is better to share as much information as possible even though everything is not yet ready. In addition, the sooner you engage different stakeholder groups into the change planning, the better and faster people will commit to the change.

> Be present, tell everything you can and repeat the key messages. Plan the change together.

2. Psst psst….

In the middle of the change, if open communication frightens or is forgotten, or when there is not enough of it, insinuation and gossiping often begins. There might be instructions for the line management to stay silent but in pressure anyone might give false hopes or send e-mails that just raise more questions.

> Always tell the truth in the midst of the change – speak as open as you can. Do not imply or raise suspicions.

3. Corporate B.S.

Or nicely said, business jargon, which is familiar from consultant slang and change communications. Vision, transformation, streamlining, engaging, re-organizing, strategizing and so on. In the end nobody really understands what’s it all about and what kind of impact the change actually has on an individual.

> Use clear and simple language, words that everybody understand. Ask and confirm that your message has been understood. Think what is essential for each group of people who are affected by the change.

4. Ho-hum…

Bullet points, lists, process charts and long Power Point presentations are good when you have sleeping problems, not in change communications

> When you talk about complicated things, such as changes, use your time in building the story and finding inspiring examples instead of complicated process charts or presentations full of text. Ask people to come and discuss together what the change really means for an individual. What good might happen when the change is done? Be brave also in raising up the possible worries and give people time to address them.

5. Once said and done

We constantly come across this common misconception. One workshop held, management e-mail sent, and training material published. But why didn’t the change happen?

> Change always requires persistent work, repetition, repetition and again repetition. Even though you would think that you have seen the same material too many times, it is highly unlikely that others would remember it. Repeat the key messages in all channels and customize it according to the target group.

Have you sometimes fallen into any of these or some other change communication traps?