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Practice 5: Repeat the Message Many Times in Many Forums, but Keep It Fresh

6 October, 2015 - 11:40

It is common for change leaders to announce a new change program and pull out all the stops to communicate it to the rest of the organization in the early part of the change initiative, only to move onto other pressing issues after it has been launched. This is a mistake, and it leads to the change cynicism that pervades many organizations today. Furthermore, organizational changes take time to adopt, often years, and this requires focused attention on the part of the rest of the organization.

Consequently, the change message must be repeated many ways in many different contexts using multiple communication channels. 1 However, this does not mean that daily e-mails with the same message need to be sent out to the entire organization. It does mean that creative and different versions of the same message need to be distributed periodically in various channels. For example, the change vision could be communicated to large and small groups in formal and informal ways at the launch of a major change program.

Furthermore, forums for listening to the employees’ reactions to the change need to be set up, and sometimes the change initiative needs to be adjusted. Furthermore, progress reports on implementing the change program can be circulated electronically or visually. Paycheck stuffers might provide factoids that related to the proposed change. And town hall meetings can be used to discuss the change initiative to those who have complaints to voice, are curious, or both. As Marshall MacLuhan noted, “the medium is the message,” 2 so repeated, pervasive, and fresh change messages help to gain the attention, interest, and eventual adoption of an information overloaded workforce.