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Today’s dynamic business climate necessitates creating organizations that are adept at change. Yet, the frequency of change and the lack of success in implementing change can make the change management process seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
Modern pressures, such as technology advancements, the rapid pace of increased globalization, the regulatory climate, the speed of communication – or many of these factors occurring simultaneously – ensure that every organization will experience change. How your organization responds to these changes can prove to be either detrimental or provide a competitive edge.
According to IBM’s 2008 Global CEO Study, 60 percent of more than 1,500 executives said they had failed at least one major change initiative. One of the best ways to avoid a failure is to ensure that you have a strong change management plan in place. Planning for change allows you to provide your organization with the tools needed to effectively adapt to the change. To do this well, you must have a solid understanding of why these change initiatives are failing in the first place.
McKinsey & Company’s The Inconvenient Truth About Change Management, states that 70 percent of organizational change fails as a result of employee attitudes and management behavior. This means well over half of organizational change initiatives that fail, do so because of an internal issue and not because of the outside pressure driving the change. This is actually good news for an organization about to implement a strategic initiative. You can’t always control how the outside pressure will impact your organization. You can, however, take control of how your organization internally manages the process.
Communications are part of the solution. According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: The Essential Role of Communications, 50 percent of project failures are related to ineffective communications. A robust strategic communications plan can help you successfully manage an organization through change. Below are three ways strategic communications are an important part of the solution:
- Help to identify implementation risks ahead of time. Communications can help discover risks during the planning phase.
- Foster a culture comfortable with change. Communications help employees better understand the change – the reason, benefits, impact to them and their role.
- Engage employees to make change successful. Communications help employees get involved in change, helping them feel empowered to commit and engage in the desired change.
The McKinsey & Company report Winning Hearts and Minds: The Secrets of Sustaining Change, emphasizes that a company’s approach around employee engagement is just as critical to the success of the transformation as the actual implementation of the change. When done correctly, communications are a top driver for engagement because employees understand how their personal contribution impacts the organization and they feel empowered to proactively improve their self and the organization.
Engaging employees is only one of the benefits of communicating effectively through organizational change. To learn more about the important role of strategic communications in change management, read our e-book Communicating Through Organizational Change.