Module 2: Change Management and Communication

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Managing the People Side of Change

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Change Management and Communication
Managing the People Side of Change

Coping with Change

Change can be disorienting, creating stress and anxiety for many people.

Many people’s first reaction is to try and avoid the change. Often this occurs by people simply being passive. Others will actively resist the change through tactics such as negativity, destructive criticism and, in extreme cases, sabotage.

During times of change it is important that affected employees continue to do their existing work to the best of their abilities and aim to enhance their personal development. Those directly affected must be encouraged to be proactive in seeking out new opportunities and to participate actively in the change process.

It is important to offer support to those that may be affected, including access to counselling services. The best approach, however, is to be transparent with your communication and communicate often.

Coping with Change (Continued)

It is important to guide people through the change, so that they do not perceive it as a threat, but harness it as an opportunity, or a means of achieving goals.

For some people, this process of acceptance will be fast; for others, it will be very slow.

To help people cope, you should make it easy for them to:

Find the facts about the change and possible outcomes
Build a good support network
Plan ahead
Have their feelings and concerns acknowledged

Importance of Good Leadership

Strong leadership is a vital change management tool. Managers have a very powerful role during change given their daily interactions with employees. Your ability to recognise and respond to certain behaviour that arises in response to change can help reduce anxiety and turn the change process into a more positive experience.

A successful leader:

Publicly supports the change
Actively tracks and measures progress
Sensitively understands the adjustments that must occur
Pays attention to those who have strong influence but are not engaged with the change and endeavours to engage them.

Importance of Good Leadership (Continued)

As a leader, you will need to develop your own coping strategy, as well as helping others to find theirs.

You will need to lead by example, set realistic expectations of yourself and others, acknowledge that people will adapt at different rates and appreciate that there will be bumps along the way.

Some people will need support to become effective leaders of change.

The following tips will provide you with a range of skills that will help promote positivity during periods of change:


People take time to really reveal how they feel about change.

See if actions match words. There are signs of resistance to change, such as people not attending meetings, slow response to provide information, key influencers being negative about the change in front of their peers, and so on.

Communication will take a lot of focus and effort to get right.

Importance of Good Leadership – What can go Wrong?

When leaders are not managing the change effectively, the following could go wrong:

The leadership team is not aligned or supportive of the change either in public or private.

Sponsorship roles are unclear, resulting in no one clearly in the role, or multiple people being called sponsor.

The leadership team is out of touch with how staff are feeling.

Communication is poor, and key stakeholders have not been identified or engaged.

There is a lack of confidence in delivery due to previous experiences of poorly managed change.

Risks are not assessed or risks that may be critical to the success of the change are not managed effectively.

Know Your Stakeholders

Stakeholders can be defined as any person or group of individuals, internal or external to your organisation, who will be impacted by the changes, or who could have an impact on the success of the change.

Stakeholder engagement is a key factor in implementing change successfully. Knowing who your stakeholders are, their concerns and motivations are important in helping to shape the strategy you will use to keep them informed.

Typical Stakeholder Roles

The following image shows a range of typical stakeholders that one would expect to find in a company undergoing change.

It is of significant importance to know the stakeholders of a business before suggesting any form of change, typical shareholders include:

Stakeholder Analysis

A Stakeholder Analysis identifies who the stakeholders are, evaluates their current commitment and identifies what level of commitment is required from them in order for the project to succeed.

A Stakeholder Analysis should be undertaken early and repeated at regular intervals throughout the change. This analysis would include a similar process as presented in the following example.


IDENTIFYING STAKEHOLDERS – Clearly identify each individual stakeholder/group and their role/connection with the change.
GATHERING KEY INFORMATION – Collate critical information on each stakeholder/group to support subsequent analysis.
ASSESSING CURRENT STAKEHOLDER COMMITMENT – Based on the attitudes and behaviours demonstrated by the stakeholder/group, assess their level of impact or influence and support or commitment to the change.
ASSESSING REQUIRED STAKEHOLDER COMMITMENT – Identify the level of commitment you would like to see demonstrated by each stakeholder to help achieve successful change. This will vary depending on stakeholders’ connection with the change program and the influence they exert within the organisation.
IDENTIFYING PRIORITY AREAS – Based on your review, you can identify the key people for active stakeholder engagement or management.

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