Communicating during change

The announcement of a takeover, merger or acquisition often starts an emotional journey, but unfortunately many organisations have a habit of not communicating during change periods until ‘things are settled’.

There are three main reasons why this does not work:

• it creates uncertainty

• the workplace grapevine can take over and employees’ fears become far worse than reality: it is extremely difficult to keep a secret in an open-plan workplace

• in an era of constant change it can be difficult to reach a settled period.

Organisations that communicate with staff regularly through times of change experience greater levels of acceptance and engagement. Employees going through a merger or acquisition seek clarity and certainty, and it is even more vital to ensure change communications are received and understood to minimise uncertainty.

Communicating in tough times is difficult but the best approach is to be open, honest and say as much as possible. If an issue has not been decided, then say so – and, if possible, explain why – rather than keep quiet and let people think the worst. Think of news stories on rolling- news channels, where events are constantly updated; your internal communications should be treated in the same manner and aim to keep people informed more regularly than once a month or quarter.