How to Make Impactful Project Communications

Focusing on the appropriate message and the perfect timing and tone seems to be getting in the way of moving hearts and minds towards positive organizational changes. Instead of addressing people’s concerns and appealing to their aspirations, many leaders and communicators get caught in the weeds talking about projects, deadlines, technology without really addressing the key elements that make change a success. They forget that emotions and ideas always win over definitions. Change resistance is real and it must be addressed.

This is one of the root causes that explain why some project communications and people engagement plans fail. Let’s see how we can improve planning, developing and delivering these activities. To increase our chances of success, we need our leaders and project teams to commit to seeking out and understanding impacts, opening discussions and accepting opposing views and positions of their employees.

Some Guiding Principles for Communications

Considering the strategic point of view that we discussed above and some tactics that can augment the impact of your communication and engagement activities, you will find here below a few guiding principles that you should keep in your mind while planning, developing, and delivering communication and engagement activities.

These guiding principles aim to help you become better communicators:

Create a vision for change and focus on the WHY

  • Create a shared vision of change, i.e., what does the future look like when this change is implemented and what are the benefits.
  • While designing communications and engagement activities always start with the “why” of change and then move to “what, when, and who and how”.

Focus on impactful key messages

  • Develop clear, concise, and engaging communications by communicating relevant information to the right audiences and using the right channels.
  • When talking about the benefits of the change, don’t only look at them from the organization’s perspective. Consider the impacted employees’ and managers’ perspectives too. Remember “What’s in it for me?” is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about changes.
  • Communicate consistent key messages while personalizing communications so that each target audience understands what the benefits of the project are for them

Timing is everything

  • Get ahead of rumors by openly discussing the differences between the current state and the future state while promoting the positive outcomes.
  • Identify the best dates to release communications based on the stakeholder business operations and project milestones. Some organizations have blackout periods where communications are not recommended.

Determine the preferred sender with the optimal impact

  • Do your research and make sure to determine and adopt the preferred sender based on the type of message and the audience.
    • High-level messages (ex: why we are changing and why now) should come from the top of the organization.
    • Operational realities should be understood from a team’s perspective and led by people managers themselves (i.e., messages about specific changes to a person’s job should come from their direct manager).
Choose the best communication channels

  • Use existing communication channels to reach your audiences effectively. In today’s busy world, adding new channels may bring complexity in reaching people while we are trying to keep it simple.
  • Promote electronic tools rather than paper, depending on the technology available to each stakeholder. Yes, today’s organization still rely on traditional documentation, guides and visuals, but not everyone has the time nor the chance to read them. Consider more flexible tools.

In conclusion, how well your organization prepares and responds will be judged by employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. Effectively communicating preparedness and making smart operational adjustments are critical for organizations to successfully navigate any organizational change.

Having plans to regularly update employees and other audiences is key to reducing uncertainty and combating the rumor mill. People are much more understanding when they see you’re aware, that you care and that you’re taking steps to minimize potential damages. Take it with two hands and make communications your priority.

Looking for some advice and coaching to see how you can best implement an approach with your team?

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Associate and Strategic Advisor Change & Transformation

Connectiviti – Rethink. Decide. Innovate. That’s how we Make Change Happen

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