• New CEO
  • Change in insurance from federal to private
  • New name

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
~ Bob Dylan

I have three clients currently dealing with quite different changes.

If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

The ol’ cliché is “the only thing constant is change,” and it’s a cliché for a reason … it’s absolutely true.  There is cause and effect to everything. Even if you cannot plan for a specific change, like a CEO leaving abruptly, you CAN have steps and a process in place to help better communicate.  As you consider your Change Communication Plan, approach it from two distinct audiences, how will the change affect my: 1) Customers; 2) Staff.

What is the Real Impact?

Will anyone notice the change? If so, will it have a positive or negative impact? Knowing that any change is disruptive, how will the change be perceived?

When you communicate, be sure to explain how you will ensure minimal negative impact of the change and detail the positive long-term benefits.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Especially if there will be negative impact, this is not a time to sweep issues under the rug or use “alternative facts.” Be upfront about all anticipated consequences. The worst thing you can do is blindside your customers or staff with surprise impact.

Get Out in Front

You can’t plan for everything, but in most cases, you have an opportunity to get a message out in advance of change.  Psychologists will tell you that a lack of knowledge can generate fear. Our mind tends to plan for a worst-case scenario to prepare itself to cope with anything. Whatever you need to tell them will be better than anything a customer or staff’s deep-dark mind can imagine.

Keep it Simple

While you’re not selling product, this is still marketing. Keep your message simple and concise. If you can be clear in an “elevator speech,” you can be clear anytime. Try to explain the reason, real impact, benefits and call to action in 3-5 sentences.

A call to action for change? Yes! Inevitably, there will be something that you want your customers or staff to do in reaction to the change.

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine go Down

I remember when my kids wouldn’t eat shrimp because it “looked funny.” The best way to get someone comfortable with anything new is to get them to try it.  Once you experience something and experience that it isn’t as bad as your imagination conjured, you tend to feel better about it. In fact, you even enjoy some of the new benefits. Consider an incentive to try, if not embrace, the new aspects of the change.

Let Them Vent

No matter how minimal the impact or how well you communicate, there is bound to be some pushback. It’s human nature to react to pushback by arguing … DON’T.

  • Anticipate the most common concerns
  • Provide a FAQ cheat sheet to all stakeholders to help them be consistent in the explanation of cause, impact, benefits and call to action.
  • Listen! Sometimes “complaining” uncovers unforeseen problems that can be fixed.

A 2017 Huffington Post article listed 5 reasons that change is good for you:

  1. You are pushed out of your comfort zone
  2. You get to experience more
  3. You get to find who you really are
  4. Makes you more flexible and adaptable
  5. You have more fun

Whatever your change is, embrace it. It can offer opportunities that the status quo would never reveal. And if you follow these six steps, the transition from “change” to the “new normal” will be easier for everyone.

Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

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