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Let's Communicate About Change

written by: Sidharth Thakur • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 6/15/2011

Managing change can be tough, but with the right communication it becomes easier to deal with. So, here’s how to go about creating a change communication plan to ensure there is no room for ambiguity.

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    Change is one of the most difficult things to manage, because the moment you introduce change into your project plans there are bound to be mixed reactions from the concerned teams. Some people may come forward gladly to embrace the change, but others may meet change with skepticism, ambiguity, fear and other negative feelings. There is an increased amount of confusion and uncertainty, because deviating from the initial plan means a change in roles, change in requirements and change in processes. All this goes on to emphasize the importance of setting up a proper plan for communicating change.

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    The Stages of Change

    As we begin to talk about the step-by-step procedure, you can download a free template for developing a plan for communicating change and its important elements from Bright Hub’s Project Management Media Gallery.

    Identify the Reasons for Change

    The first step toward developing an effective change communication plan is to define the change and explain why this change is needed. List out the different aspects of change and put up supportive reasoning against each, to show what will be the additional gain if this change is implemented or what will be the problems or losses that the project will have to face if you do not carry out the change.

    Define the Periphery of Change

    Next, you need to clearly specify what the change will involve, what processes will be affected and to what extent. Once you have a clear picture of which aspects of the project will be affected by the change and which ones will remain unaffected, you will easily be able to discern who needs to be communicated what.

    How and When will the Change Take Place?

    A study of how and when the change will take place will help outline the changed roles and responsibilities of the teams as well as the change in work schedule. The change may require resources to be reorganized and redeployed, and this is another thing that must be communicated. Including all this information in the communication plan will help dismiss some of the ambiguity and confusion that is commonly associated with change.

    Revised Requirements and Targets

    A change would certainly affect what remains or what gets added to the list of project targets. The quality and quantity parameters, the delivery schedule, resource requirements and deliverables are some other things that will need to be redefined and communicated, before you begin implementing the change.

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    Elements of an Effective Plan

    Here’s a quick look at what goes into the template that you’ve downloaded from the above link.

    Description of Change

    Brief descriptions of the different aspects of the change should be put up as a pointed list in the first column.

    What is to be Communicated?

    A list of all the things that need to be communicated, related to a particular aspect of the change.Elements of a Change Control Plan 

    To Whom?

    This section requires a list of the teams or individual team members who need to be informed about the particular aspect of the change.

    What are the Expected Concerns and Reactions?

    A list of the expected concerns and reactions that the change is likely to receive from the concerned teams and team members goes into this column. Supportive reasoning to satisfy these concerns and reactions should also be mentioned here.

    When to Communicate?

    This space is reserved for detailing the schedule for communicating the different aspects of the change.

    Modes of Communication

    Include the different modes to be used for communicating a particular aspect of change like – email, office memo or fax can be mentioned here.

    Who will be Responsible?

    The name of the person who will be responsible for communicating the change to all concerned stakeholders can be mentioned in this section.

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    The Important Caveats

    Here are some tips that will help you in making the communication of change more effective and efficient.

    Communicate Frequently

    When it comes to communicating change no amount of communication is ever enough. So you must communicate consistently to keep each and every stakeholder well informed about the latest developments.

    Use Multiple Medium

    Don’t restrict the mode of communication to a single medium; instead use multiple modes to communicate the same information. This will ensure that the information reaches each and every concerned person and that everyone is clearly able to understand the conveyed message.

    Be Ready to Explain and Clarify

    When you communicate change, you’re likely to receive a lot of questions and clarification requests. So you must be all prepared to explain and clarify each and every aspect of the communication message as well as anything related to the change.

    Host Interactive Sessions

    In addition to communicating change using emails or memos, you must consider the idea of holding some interactive sessions to communicate, explain and discuss the change.

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    References & Credits:

    1. Sprint.gov.uk. Communications Plan at http://www.sprint.gov.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=42&Itemid=45
    2. Inc.com reprinted in Google docs. Bibliography for Facilitating Change (Word doc) at http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/06/19312.html

    Image Credit:

    Image by – Sidharth Thakur