Effective organizational communication is key to successful change management initiatives. Elving (2005) states that, "Poorly managed change communication results in rumors and resistance to change, exaggerating the negative aspects of change". He ascertains that strategic change communication should serve two purposes: 1) to inform employees about changes in tasks, policies, and procedures; and 2) to serve as a means of creating community. Elving (2005) states the following postulations regarding change communication methods:
1) "Effective organizational change will be shown in low levels of resistance to change, or high levels of readiness for change, by employees".
2) Communication should clearly inform employees about how their work will be impacted by the change.
3) Communication to create a community should center around employee commitment, organizational trust, and organizational identification.
4) High levels of uncertainty will negatively impact readiness for change.
5) Job insecurity will negatively impact readiness for change.
6) Strategic change communication will positively influence feelings of uncertainty and job insecurity.
Daft (2008) states that what separates a leader from followers, is the leader’s ability to create a vision, and to entice followers to develop a similar passion and excitement, for that vision. Kotter (2002) consistently reiterates the importance of creating and articulating a shared organizational vision, and even a specific change management vision. In addition, Kotter also goes on to address the importance of having an effective change management plan, and provides a research- based eight step model for leaders to follow. Communication plays a vital role in Kotter’s eight step change management model. Elving (2005) further explains that the purpose of communication, during change management, is to inform followers of changes in daily tasks and procedures, and to facilitate the building of community.
As a result, organizations who are anticipating, or in the midst of organizational change should create an inter-departmental Change Management Team. These team members serve as change agents for their respective departments and co-workers. The Change Management Team should be comprised of both departmental heads, as well as individuals who represent each role within departments. In addition, it may be optimal to have team members alternate every six months, in order to maintain fresh and innovative perspectives on the organizational change. Any staff member that is interested in becoming more involved with the further development of the organization would have an opportunity to join, further fostering a sense of community. This change management strategy can support the organizational leaders, as now the change management vision is understood, articulated and implemented within each department of the organization simultaneously, and in a standardized manner. Furthermore, each representative is able to bring feedback from their constituents back to the Change Management Team, giving the team and the organizational leaders a real-time feel for the affective and practical impact of the change upon the organization.
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Daft, R. (2008). The Leadership Experience, 4th edition, Thomson Higher Education, Inc, Mason, OH
Elving, W. (2005). The role of communication in organizational change. Corporate Communications (10)2, 129- 138
Kotter, J. (2002). The Heart of Change. Harvard Business School Pulishing, Boston, MA