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Change management is about "modifying or transforming organisations in order to maintain or improve their effectiveness"1. An important aspect of motivating employees in a changing and dynamic environment is how this is communicated. It is often said that "part of a managers' job is to "motivate" their staff and find a way of getting them to act in a way that fits with organisational requirements" 2. Communication helps to get people motivated.

How is change communicated in an organisation?

The starting point of a communication plan is answering the question "Who, Why, What, When and How?".3


This relates to the audience being targeted for the communication. It can also refer to the author of the message. Groups within the organisation or changing environment will have different needs. Tools such as a stakeholder analysis will enable managers or change champions to match their communication strategies to meet the needs of each group.

Stakeholder analysis and management

A stakeholder analysis is a useful technique for identifying the individuals that needs to be won over. A stakeholder analysis should provide managers or change champions with the information that enables them plan adequate communication and identify ways of motivating employees. Stakeholder management is critical to the success of any organisation change. By engaging the right people in the right way during change process, managers can achieve a greater chance of success.

Why and What

Employees and people need to understand the reason for the change. The “why” provides specific information about what is changing, the reason(s), clearly defines the purpose of the message and benefits to both the employees and employers. Whilst the “what” provides specifics about the message. This must be clear and measurable. The “Why” and “What” conveys a vision of where the organisation is going. 4, 5

A vision helps to "clarify the direction in which the organisation needs to move" 6. A clear vision should provide employees with guidance on where the organisation is going and how it can get there. A vision is like a north star and should be easy to communicate in order to capture and motive people.


Timing is crucial in communicating change. Too early and the message loses momentum. On the other hand if left too late, the communication may lose its power and purpose due to rumours and hear-says which could confuse stakeholders. The managers or change champions should plan adequate and timely communication before, during and after the change. It is important to communicate what is known as quickly and honestly as possible. Incomplete or changing information should be caveated 3.


When deciding on the media or method of communication, it is important to recognise that each media i.e. Face-2-face, town hall, emails, cascade etc. has its place. A successful campaign generally incorporates various medium to communicate key messages. Whatever media is chosen should take into consideration circulation and reach, frequency, credibility and opportunity for feedback 3.

There are a number of methods and ways of communicating change in dynamic environment. A popular model used by organisations is John Kotter's model for communicating change.


1. The Theory and Practice of Change Management (2nd Edition) John Hayes, 2007 Palgrave Macmillian
2. Watson, Tony. 2006., Organising and Managing Work. [online]. Financial Times/ Prentice Hall. Available from:<http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=60221> 6 December 2013
3. Communicating workplace change : Starting with the basics by Diane Stegmeier
( http://workplaceelements.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/wp_CommunicatingWorkplaceChange1.pdf )
4. How to communicate effectively within the change process by Darrin Wikoff
(http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/23535/communicate-effectively-change-process )
5. Communicating change: What people want to hear and what they need to see by Carol Kinsey Goman
Forbes (online) 7/8/2013
(http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolkinseygoman/2013/07/18/communicating-change-what-people-want-to-hear-and-what-they-need-to-see/ )
6. Leading Change : John P. Kotter Harvard Business Review June 2007 Vol. 85 Issue 1 Pp 96-103