Change communication template

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BEST COMMUNICATION PLAN & PRACTICES


Complete Guide | The Best Communication Plan & Practices with Examples and Templates

Communications planning during a time of change is key. An effective communication plan helps you stay on top of all your communications that you’ll be pushing out for awareness, scheduling, updates, milestone announcements, and more.

This guide is designed for internal and external Communications Strategists, Communications Managers, Change Management Practitioners, Corporate Communication Specialists, Program & Project Managers, HR, Employee Communications Directors, and anyone interested in the best communication strategies and plans.

“As a Senior Change Management Consultant and Communications Manager, I have developed and implemented successful communication plans to deliver key messages to over 100,000 employees and customers across Intel, Apple, HSBC, The Federal Reserve Bank, Cisco, Accenture, and Deloitte. Something I have discovered is that applying the communication planning and strategic best practices described below increases the success of a communication campaign by 89% on average.”

Ogbe Airiodion
Senior Change Lead & Communication Consultant


This simple-to-use communication plan and strategic guide provides you with a step-by-step overview of the best communication plan practices that will help increase the success of your communication strategy and delivery.

Communication strategies and practices are ever-changing. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re relying on an outdated communications plan template and framework that no longer work.

That’s why it’s crucial for you, as a communication practitioner to stay well-informed and learn continuously. To support you and other communication practitioners and project leads in their communication campaigns and planning, this guide also references AGS’ best-in-class #1 Communication Toolkit with Plan Templates, Matrix, and Sample Data that you can leverage to enhance your communication development, delivery, and success tracking.


First, Let’s Quickly Define What an Effective Communication Plan Should Be

Best Communication Plan:

The best types of communication plans are those that completely capture the who, what, when, how, and where of a communication campaign. Such plans adequately outline who the communication target audience is, what they need to know, when they need to be communicated with, how they will be communicated with, and where.

To be effective, a strategic communication plan should include a detailed overview of the target audience groups and individuals, as well as the delivery channels, communication objectives, timing, prioritization, and the approach that will be used.

Best Change Management Communication Plan:

The best types of change management communication plans are similar in nature to the communication plans discussed above. The difference is that change project management communication plans are focused on the who, what, when, how, and where – from a change management perspective. They include an overview of the project stakeholders and impacted end-users that will be communicated with, as well as the project communication delivery channels that will be used to communicate with the impacted audience groups.

To be effective, a change communication plan should include an overview of the change communication objectives (What do you want your project messages to achieve? What do you need project stakeholders to do? What do your impacted users need to be aware of? etc.). It should also include the timing and prioritization of your various change project communication campaigns.

Communication strategy template

AGS Communication Plan Toolkit – Sample Communication Types

Communication plan template

AGS Communication Plan Toolkit – Sample Communication Type By Priority

Continue reading for a more detailed overview of the best communication strategies, plans, and templates that you should be aware of.


Table of Contents: Communication Plan Guide


Best Ways to Identify the Complete Target Audience List for Your Communication

Most communication practitioners only have to deal with only one target audience type: internal audience groups (employees, managers, and executives). Others have to engage with both internal and external (customers, clients, suppliers, vendors, leads, etc.).

Determine your communication objectives and use the steps below to identify a complete target list for your internal or external communication audience groups, or for both.

Identifying Internal Communication Target Audience Groups

  1. New employee groups
  2. Terminating employee groups
  3. Stakeholders for a project. Conduct a stakeholder audience assessment to identify who will be impacted by the project or by the change, and add these individuals to your list.
  4. Teams and groups that will be impacted by a business change, new processes, new company policies, new technology solutions, or any kind of business change. Perform a change impact assessment to identify how they will be impacted, and what they need to do, and include these individuals to your communication audience list.
  5. For a communication that is driven by a business change, meet with project sponsors, key stakeholders, project managers, and other project resources to gather additional information on who else will be impacted by the change, and also gather a high-level summary of what these additional individuals and groups need to know. Review project documents including the project charter, work breakdown structure, and project plan to see if you can identify any additional groups that need to be communicated with.
  6. For company information or business crisis information, the target audience will involve any group that needs to be aware of this information.
  7. For marketing, promotional, or other internal campaigns, the audience will be the managers and employees for groups that need to be aware of the campaign’s messaging.
  8. The target audience for communications from firm leaders will be those groups that need to be aware of such leadership communications. Such communications can be communication broadcasts to motivate staff, increase productivity, or promote a change in the company’s culture.

After completing your assessments and identifying your complete communication target list, you can enter that information into AGS’ Communication Plan – Matrix Template.


Illustration: Sample Communication Plan Matrix Template

Communication management plan

Watch this Communication Plan Video for a clearer view of the above image


You can use AGS’ #1 Ranked Change Communications Planning Tool, AGS Cloud to help with communication planning. This tool is an online change manager that is designed to help you plan, manage, and execute a successful change project.

Choose from a Cloud or Excel version that includes real-time analytics and communications scheduling by priority, as well as simplified templates for reviewing your change communications, delivery dates, and delivery channels. 

Change Communication Planning Template

Top Ranked Communication Management Template & Tool


Identifying External Communication Target Audience Groups

Depending on what your organization needs to communicate, your external communication audience groups will include the below list of communication audience types:

  1. Existing customers that have purchased your firm’s products
  2. Existing clients that are using your firm’s services
  3. Leads (potential new customers and clients)
  4. Vendors
  5. 3rd parties
  6. Suppliers
  7. Consultancies providing services to your organization
  8. Partners
  9. Shareholders
  10. Investors
  11. and many more…

► ►Top Ranked Communication Planning & Mgt Tool.  


What Needs to be Communicated?

What needs to be communicated and how this will be communicated will be determined as part of your communication objectives. In order words, what do you want your communication audience to do? What actions do you want them to take?

Is this just a simple awareness or are there things you need your audience to do?

How to communicate? See the below sections for a detailed overview of the various communication channels you should leverage for your communication plan and strategies.

What to communicate? This varies across organizations and is on a case by case basis. What you will be communicating will be driven by your communication objectives. 

Sample Communication Objectives:

  1. Provide awareness about the changes
  2. Targeted to identified audiences and distributed at pre-determined dates
  3. Interactive to maintain interest, participation and opportunities for learning
  4. Based on known rhetoric tools and adapted to each impacted organizations’ “tone of voice”
  5. Consistent tone & style across communications
  6. Consistent messaging

Your Communication Plan Should Include These Key Channels

You should include a multi-prong communication strategy when developing your communication plan and ensure that you are applying at least 4 of the communication channels listed below.

Communication Channels

  1. Communication via Email
  2. Communication via Newsletter
  3. Two-Way Communication
  4. 3×5 Leadership Communication
  5. FAQs
  6. Intranet/Blog Communication
  7. Videos & Recordings


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Communication via Email | Sample & Template

Tool & Excel Template to Manage Your Communications

Depending on the global or regional scope of your target communication audience, email will be the primary communication channel you will use to broadcast your communications.

Outlook has a feature that allows you to track when someone opens and reads the email. However, the reader has to first click “Yes” on a pop up asking them to allow tracking. Unfortunately, most people will click no.

Email Communications

To more effectively track the success of your email communications, it is recommended that you use a 3rd party tool or an Outlook extension.

Your company (e.g., your HR department or Corporate Communications) most likely already has such a tool you can use to broadcast email communications, plus track metrics like open rates, number of people that “clicked on links within the email”, how much time people are spending reading the email, number of times the email was forwarded, and other trackable metrics.

These metrics can also be tracked by using cloud email delivery tools (MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.) or by using specific features of certain CRM programs.

Structure & Format to Use for Your Email Communication 

How should you structure and format your communication broadcast message?

We recommend that you break up your email message into segments – paragraphs and bullet points. People don’t like to read long lines of text messages in an email. Bullet points and short paragraphs are best practices.

It’s also helpful to include a consistent header image and signature for each communication, so recipients can immediately identify it as being from the relevant organization and related to the organizational change project. 

This consistency can extend to the “From” address for emails as well. Keeping email communications consistently from the same email sender is helpful if users would like to set up email rules that will flag incoming messages from that address. You might want to make this suggestion to your internal audience, so messages don’t go to spam folders.

Sample Email Communication Template

Sample Communications Plan - Template

Benefits of Email Awareness Communications

Regular email awareness communications and status update emails are essential for engaging with communication groups. It is a vital way to communicate with your internal audience (company employees and managers) or external audience (customers, suppliers, vendors, etc.), especially those that are directly impacted by a business change.

Awareness and status-update email communications are effective for providing employees and customers with a good understanding of what is changing, what are the benefits, and what’s the risk of not changing, as well as keeping end-users engaged throughout the duration of a change.

Click here to download an email communication template that you can use for your project:
Free Email Awareness Communication Sample Template.


Communication via Newsletter | Sample & Template

End-to-End Tool to Manage Your Communications

People generally skim through communications, without really taking the time to read every word. As such, using a newsletter format, which involves succinct messages and images is an important communication delivery channel that should be part of your communication plan.

When available, also add embedded videos or video links to your newsletters.

Leveraging newsletters as one of your communication delivery channels will greatly increase your ability to engage with readers and stakeholders. You should draft, socialize with selected people for feedback, and then broadcast your newsletters using a set cadence (i.e., weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, every 2 months, etc.). 

This sets an expectation in people’s minds to expect your newsletters on a regular basis, which is important because people like to feel that they are “in the loop.”

Sample Newsletter Communication Message

Program Management Stakeholder Engagement Communications

What Kinds of Messages Can you Communicate Using a Newsletter?

Sample communications include:

  • Quarterly/monthly/annual/periodic business update communication
  • Product releases
  • New system/tool
  • Change to business culture or direction
  • Program kick-off
  • Program status updates
  • Implementation roadmap
  • Awareness
  • Impacts
  • Completed milestones
  • Kudos & recognition
  • Heads-up / what’s next
  • How and where to get help
  • Training communications
  • Go-Live & post Go-Live messages

Where possible, make sure to customize your newsletter based on the targeted audience that you plan to send the change communication newsletter communication to. For example, verbiage and wording used in newsletter communications to Sales, Finance, and Accounting will be slightly different from communication broadcasts sent to IT or Operations.

You want to include verbiage that the reader can relate to. If you send a communication to Sales that is filled with technical jargon, your audience will not relate and will quickly disregard your communication.

Click here, Free Newsletter Template, to download a template that you can use for your project.


Two-Way Communication Strategy

As part of your communications plan, you should include a two-way communication strategy that involves both “Telling” and “Listening.”

  • Telling is communicating to people
  • Listening is hearing what these same people have to say

Change Managers, Program Leads, and Communication Specialists often communicate using a Telling strategy where all they do is communicate to their target audience. They don’t often involve the Listening component which involves hearing what people at the grassroots level are saying about what is being communicated.

By applying a Telling and a Listening strategy, you are communicating and also getting valuable input that will allow you to gauge the success of your communications.

Your Listening strategy should involve meeting with Change Champions, Super Users, Managers, and other stakeholders to gather what they are hearing from people at the grassroots level. What are front-line employees saying, and how are they reacting to what was communicated? How are customers reacting to communication? Is there support or resistance to what is being communicated?


3×5 Leadership Communication | Sample & Template

Communication Plan Template – Cloud or Excel

Your communication strategy and plan should also include 3×5 regular updates to key stakeholders, impacted managers, senior executives, and any other senior project resources.

As the name implies, a 3×5 communication strategy involves providing a succinct update using three columns (what you achieved, what you are working on, and what you plan to do next).

Each of these three columns will list five achieved, in-progress, and planned activities, respectively.

Monthly Leadership Updates

Click to download: Free Sample Template – 3×5 Leadership Communication

When communicating a change to senior leaders, and project management leads, they generally like to receive communication that is succinct and presented from a high-level perspective. When leaders desire more detailed information, they prefer to be the ones asking for such details versus you sending them a very detailed first communication.

You will immediately lose the attention of most senior leaders if you send them communication that has too many details, which is why including a 3×5 as part of your change management communications plan or project communication strategy is highly recommended.


FAQs Communication Strategy

Spreadsheet & Analytics Tool for Managing Your Communications

To address frequently asked questions about the change, you should include FAQs as part of your communication strategy.

You can have one FAQ page that includes all frequently asked questions and answers or you can have individual pages. Irrespective, this page(s) should be maintained regularly, and kept up to date with frequently asked questions and provided answers.

Also, the best project communication practice is to include a link at the bottom of every communication that you send out that points people to your FAQs.

This will help drive end-user traffic to the FAQ page(s).

Sample FAQ Page

FAQ Page for Organizational Change Management Communication Plan

The FAQ page(s) should be published and maintained on the firm’s internal or external blog and should be accessible to all target audience groups. Using SharePoint or another internal platform that requires special access and approvals will not be ideal.

Open access provides the broadest level of access to all target audience groups.

If you need to ensure exposure to customers and external parties, then post it on the company’s public site (you might need to work with Corporate HR or legal to get approval for this). Confidential level information should never be posted on an FAQ page, irrespective of whether the page is a public or an internal page.


Intranet/Blog Communication | Sample & Template

Communications Planning and Management Tool

In addition to, or separate from an FAQ page, you should also have an internal page or site where content can be posted that focuses on the project or initiative.

Use this dedicated project site to communicate progress and awareness. Upload communication videos, project documents or artifacts that end-users can view or read. You can also upload training content and use the page as a repository for presentation and training documents. 

Alternatively, you can also use SharePoint, Dropbox, or other collaborative platforms as your centralized program repository. However, as mentioned in the section above, if you need all impacted end-users to be able to quickly access the repository without having to go through approval hoops, then effective communication strategies call for using a platform that is easily accessible by all impacted end-users.


Videos & Recordings Strategy to Include on Your Project Management Communication Plan

Spreadsheet Matrix for Managing Your Communications

Where possible, you should record your team’s end-user meetings, training, coaching, workshops, and other touchpoints, and post the recordings on the firm’s website, on your FAQ page, or on the project page for stakeholders to view.

If you are using video and audio tools (Skype, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, etc.) these platforms generally come with recording features. You should record your meetings and post the information on the project site. 

Video Communication Plan and OCM Comms Strategy

All of the channels and strategies outlined above are effective communication strategies that when implemented will help you increase the success of your communication activities.


Conclusion – Developing an Effective Communication Plan for a Project or Business Change

Over the last decade in my role as a Senior Change Management Program Manager, I have delivered end-to-end change management capabilities for large, complex business transformations. Something I have identified again and again is that different groups and individuals have different preferences for how they consume communication.

By applying a multi-prong approach as part of your project and change management communication plan, you drastically increase the success of your communication efforts.

The aim of this communication plan and strategic guide presented above is to provide you with a step-by-step overview of the best communication plan practices that you need to be aware of, to help increase your communication successes.

Best of luck in your communication planning and delivery. Let us know if you have any questions or comments.


Get your copy of our #1 Ranked Communication Planning Toolkit

The AGS Communications Management Tool includes a best-in-class communication database template, samples, a 360-degree analytics view of all your change communications activities, and much more that you can leverage to simplify and optimize your communications management.

Click below to purchase this tool and for instant access that will allow you to get started right away.

Change Communication Planning Template

Change Management Communication Software Tool

What is a Communication Plan?

A communication plan is a document that outlines the communication strategies, activities, and deliverables that will be used to communicate with a targeted audience including employees and managers. The best communication plans include the list of targeted communication audience groups, as well as the success matrix and indicators that will be used to track the communication successes.

What Should be Included in a Communication Plan?

The purpose of a communication plan is to document the approach that will be used to design, develop, implement and track the effectiveness of a communication program. As such, a communication plan should include the who, what, when, and how of the communication campaign.

How does a Communication Plan Look Like?

The initial step to creating the best communication plan is to first determine your communication objectives. And next, you will want to identify the list of communication audience, what they need to know, how they need to be communicated with, and what KPIs you will use to track the success of your communication campaigns.

How to Write an Effective Communications Plan

The initial step to creating the best communication plan is to first determine your communication objectives. And next, you will want to identify the list of targeted internal and external communication audience groups, what they need to know, how they will be communicated with, and what KPIs you will use to track the success of your communication program.


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Change management communication plan

Organizations going through change naturally focus on the project being implemented – what has to be done by when to complete the action plan. They often don’t give as much thought to what people need to do differently to achieve the desired results. Yet most organizational change won’t succeed without employees somehow adopting new ways of working.

What is Change Management Communication and Why is it Important?

Change communication is the informational component of the change management strategy that helps stakeholders understand what is changing and why, and how it will specifically affect them. It delivers timely messages and materials aligned with key milestones, ensures stakeholders receive consistent information about what is important to them, and provides a mechanism to share feedback and ask questions.

Whether you are changing technology, business practices, leadership or a combination of things, change management communication is essential to helping people move from where they are today to the desired “future state.” 

Change Management and Communication Follow Similar Processes

The Standard for Change Management defines a multi-phase process that professional change managers use to think through, plan for and execute organizational change. The approach is informative as you think about creating your communication plan to support a change.

  1. Evaluate change impact and organizational readiness – Thoroughly examine what is changing, how it differs from where the organization is today, who will be affected by the change, the desired future state and the plan to achieve it. This assessment step includes:

    a. Clearly define the change and vision for the future – What is changing and when, where will changes take place and why, who needs to change and what do we want the future to look like?

    b. Assess all the factors related to the change – What risks, goals, culture, and other changes are happening, and what other internal and external factors could influence them?

    c. Analyze all the stakeholders affected – Who is accountable, how are different groups and roles affected, who is being impacted the most, and who might be resistant to the change?

    d. Consider how the organization operates – Once a clear vision of the future is developed, how is it different from the way the organization operates today and what risks are there in moving to the future state?

  2. Formulate the change management strategy – This includes approaches for resources, communications, sponsorship, stakeholder engagement, learning and development, measurement and sustainability for the change.
  3. Develop a detailed change management plan – Spell out action steps and timeline to accomplish the strategy.
  4. Execute the change management plan – Monitor the implementation, measure outcomes and adjust ongoing activities as needed to continue reinforcing adoption.
  5. Complete the change management effort – Evaluate outcomes against objectives, design and conduct a lessons-learned evaluation, and gain approval to close the project once successful.

Execute your change management communication planCreating a Change Communication Plan

Like the process outlined in the Standard for Change Management, creating a change management communication plan starts with a deep understanding of the organization, stakeholders and change impacts. The goal is to support the business objective by helping stakeholders understand the change, how they will need to adapt their day-to-day responsibilities and what is expected of them.

By ensuring a consistent flow of information, engaging stakeholders and continually managing feedback, change communication helps people feel more comfortable as they move to the future state and adopt new ways of working.

The communications planning process involves the following steps similar to the change management process described above: 

Step-1b

 

Assess the Situation, People,
Channels and Needs

If you are working with change management partners, they are likely responsible for a stakeholder analysis, which summarizes the levels and types of impacts on different roles and functions. If a stakeholder analysis is not available, you should work with the change sponsor or subject matter expert in each function to uncover the critical information needed for communications planning.

As you assess the situation, people, channels and needs to prepare for developing a change communications plan, be sure to:   

  • Know your employee audience and who will be most affected – You need details of the changes happening to each audience and when to be able to plan appropriate customized communication.
  • Understand what’s changing and why and document the case for change – The “what” and “why” of the change are key components of your messaging to all audiences. Click below and try this tool to capture your information:

Create the Case for Change Tool

  • Define the vision for the future and how it aligns with the business plan – The organization has a reason for making the change and the vision explains this in terms employees will understand. Try the tool below, “Paint a Picture of the Future,” to help guide your vision.
  • Identify the “pain points” that the change plan addresses – The difference between how people operate today vs. the “future state” should be reflected in your messaging to help people understand areas that will change the most.
  • Identify communications channels needed to reach the audiences – Keep in mind that any touchpoints stakeholders may have with their leaders or the organization, including face-to-face huddles and operational meetings, can be used to deliver and reinforce key messages.

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case studyCase Study: Uncovering Needs to Plan for Transformation Communication

To implement an industry-endorsed approach for a Safety Management System (SMS), a multi-state utility deployed a large transformation team to align its structures, processes and roles across seven operating companies. They identified 19 workstreams to advance the work and the change management team conducted stakeholder analyses for each workstream.

Utility-workers-v3The analysis determined the level of impact for employees in functions including construction, engineering, employee health and safety, field and system operations, human resources, maintenance and planning. The stakeholders included leaders and employees at the corporate level and in seven separate state operating companies.

The SMS communications team was responsible for an overarching change communications plan as well as day-to-day support for individual workstreams. Through detailed interviews with leaders of each workstream, they identified what was changing, why and when, and the specific desired behaviors that would help achieve workstream goals. The team also consulted communications and operational leads in the states to understand channels they would use and the challenges they envisioned to implement the change at the local level.

This research identified the audiences, key messages, milestones and timeline that formed the foundation of the communications plan, and informed the strategy for supporting state communications teams in reaching their stakeholders. The resulting plan included message maps for the core SMS effort and key workstreams, infographics to illustrate the process and benefits, leader kits and an alignment strategy to provide monthly updates and gather feedback from state operating companies.

 

Step_2

 

Create the Change
Communications Plan

Most change communication is designed to drive engagement that results in behavior change and new ways of working. Any communication plan can create awareness of what is happening and promote its benefits. Change communications plans must do that and more – they must help people see where they fit and provide answers to their deepest concerns:

“What does this mean to me and what do I need to do?”

Behavior change happens one person at a time and the more your communication can connect on a personal level, the more effective it will be.

This doesn’t mean your communications team should offer therapy or coaching to every employee! However, you will be most successful with an approach focused on individual needs as well as overarching general communications. Consider:

      • What do front-line employees need to know as they experience and deal with the expectations of change?
      • What will help their leaders answer their questions and connect team members to their roles in attaining the ultimate goal?
      • What framework can you use to ensure your communications and messages can adapt to audience needs as transformation moves forward and continues to evolve along the way?

At the end of the day, your plan should support the behavior change with communication that gives stakeholders the information they need when they need it, and equips leaders to help in the process. The change communication plan includes the following key sections: 

        • Objectives based on the business goals (what success looks like) – Like any communications effort, change communication plans should align closely with the business objectives for the change. These objectives can be explained in a story or graphic to help everyone connect with the vision for success.
        • Desired behaviors for employees – These may vary by role or function, and should be observable (ideally measurable, e.g., use of a new tool or software) to demonstrate adoption of the change.

          Consider using a template like the one below to help lead a discussion with your change sponsor on what you want each impacted group to think, feel and do as a result of the change. This insight will help guide your messages and communication strategies. 

Example Audience types

Mindset

What I want them to Think

Feel

And Do as a result of the communications

All employees

 

 

 

 

<Insert additional audience types as needed>

 

 

 

 

      • Key messages – You’ll need core messages explaining the overarching change and vision, as well as audience-specific messages to support key milestones. For example, customized messages for field engineers would be timed to the rollout of a new process, to explain training plans, rollout timing and expectations of their role in consulting with the field.
      • Communication strategies and tactics – This section summarizes the key activities you’ll implement to support the change for all categories of stakeholders. It might be organized by target audience (e.g., leaders/front-line employees), or by change initiative (e.g., phases of a software rollout).
      • Editorial calendar – An overview of your plan for delivering relevant information to stakeholders at key points in the change effort. It summarizes the message themes and the channels used to deliver them, aligning timing with key milestones in the program.

Editorial Calendar Template:

 

January

February

March

April

Etc.

Key milestones

 

 

 

 

 

Monthly content focus

 

 

 

 

 

Leader communications

 

 

 

 

 

Graphics (such as posters, digital signage, field guides, etc.)

 

 

 

 

 

Intranet or internal resource page

 

 

 

 

 

<Insert others unique to your initiative>

 

 

 

 

 

An editorial calendar showing monthly communication themes aligned with key change milestones captures your plan at a glance and helps leaders understand how communications are
reinforcing key behaviors.

  • Formal and informal two-way feedback channels – Whether you use existing channels or create new ones, this “must have” could include online mailboxes, suggestion boxes in a field office (formal), or a defined process for front-line leaders/change champions to invite and respond to employee feedback (informal). The organization must actively respond to feedback from all channels and use it to guide communication (often through the communications team).
  • Cadence of measurement – Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure business progress, and the communications team should regularly report on measures such as engagement with tools, participation in key events, feedback received and responded to, etc. Measure your progress using this dashboard template:

Change Communications Measurement Dashboard Template

  • Input and ongoing feedback – Be ready to evolve your activities to meet changing needs and continuously evaluate the effectiveness of communications efforts. This will be easier if you engage regularly with those on the front lines of the change – whether through focus groups, surveys or periodic input meetings with a cross-functional work team.
  • Action plan – A game plan outlining specific activities and timing for executing tactics in the change communications plan. It details the deadlines and people responsible for steps including leader and legal review of content and design, printing or other production, mailing, distribution, and delivery of presentations or information to employees. Get the action plan template at the end of this post, or skip down to it here.

Step_3

 

Prepare Key People for Their
Critical Influencer Role

All leaders – from front-line supervisors to middle managers and senior executives – serve as role models and champions for new behaviors and change. For any change to be successful, leaders from every stakeholder group must be active and visible in leading their teams and reinforcing progress. Best practice research confirms that employees want to hear from leaders during change:

      1. They want to hear about business reasons for the change, risks and competitive information from senior leaders who are responsible for the change.
      2. They want to hear about the personal impacts of the change and what it means to them from their immediate supervisors.

In addition, employees often turn to influential peers because of strong relationships, experience, skills and commitment. These influencers can be recruited as “change agents” (or part of a “change network”), trained as communicators, equipped with information and asked to share feedback that they hear from their coworkers.

Drivers of communicating organizational change

These Official and Unofficial Leaders are the Drivers of Change

In best-practice organizations, the communication responsibility assigned to these leaders is clearly articulated by their direct supervisors, who set expectations and hold them accountable for delivering information and gathering feedback.

To set leaders and change agents up for success, change sponsors and communication teams collaborate to define their communication role and ensure they are equipped with information, tools, training and support. These key steps should be a component of every change communication plan.

  • Evaluate communication capabilities of leaders – Consider their communications experience and knowledge when choosing the tools and training to help prepare leaders for their change role. For example, supervisors with minimal experience may be best served by a more basic approach, while senior leaders will find messages and toolkits familiar. You also can use a leadership communication skills assessment to determine their needs. 
  • Assemble a network of change agents, including peer influencers – Early in your planning, define what this group will be asked to do, how much time it will take, and the support to be provided. Share this information with managers and supervisors in each stakeholder group and ask them to nominate influential employees to participate. With leader approval, invite the individuals to participate, starting with a kick-off meeting to share expectations. 
  • Create tools to help them deliver critical messages – Develop a toolkit for leaders and change agents with communication tools suited for their specific situation and audience. Core messages, communication tips, slides, handouts, infographics, posters, FAQs and even communication content (e.g., email announcements) can be provided to support communication with their teams. Toolkits can be customized and updated periodically as the program progresses. 
  • Brief them on the tools and provide more training if needed – Conduct a briefing or webinar that explains the change, key tools in the toolkit and how to use them. This will have the greatest impact if their senior executive reinforces the importance of their communication roles. Keep in touch with participants to understand how they are using the tools and what is most helpful (gathering input to guide future activities). Provide coaching as needed on key communication concepts and tools.
  • Identify feedback channels and reinforce response expectations – Responding promptly to employee questions and feedback is one of the most important change communication responsibilities. Leaders and change agents need to know which feedback channels employees can use, the response process being followed, and specific expectations for them to answer employee questions. If a response process doesn’t exist, create and implement one. Be sure this information is in the toolkit and reinforced consistently.
case studyCase Study: Preparing Leaders to Communicate Transformation at USP

U.S. Pharmacopoeia, a 200-year-old nonprofit organization, experienced multiple pain points in its traditional methods for developing and publishing scientific standards for the pharmaceutical industry. In response, USP leaders identified the need for a new approach to a number of processes, as well as systems, technology and talent, to improve efficiency and enhance collaboration among its highly skilled scientific staff. With the vision defined, they wanted people across USP to engage in identifying solutions to achieve what was deemed the “ATP” transformation (a play on a scientific term for the molecule that uses energy to power cells).

USP needed its leaders to understand the vision, explain it to their teams in a clear and relatable way, and align around the ultimate goal that had been set by a select group within the organization. A Transformation Leader Prep Meeting briefed 95 USP Case Studyleaders on the plan, outlined role expectations, and introduced the ATP Leader Communicator Toolkit with leader tips and key messages plus several tools to share. Following the briefing, working sessions for leaders in USP’s four divisions talked about what ATP would mean for their teams, anticipated employee questions, and started planning for the upcoming employee launch.

Following the prep meeting, leaders used the materials to prepare their teams for the ATP launch and encouraged involvement in eight solution teams tasked with identifying next steps. More than 100 employees volunteered to serve on the teams (comprised of approximately 60 individuals) that were formed following the launch and together developed rollout plans for implementation in 2019 and 2020.

 

Step_4

 

Execute the
Communications Plan

When you receive input and approval on your change communications plan and messages, it’s time to take action. Be sure to brief key communication contacts (such as internal communications editors, intranet managers and video resources) about your plans so they are ready to provide support when needed. Also give a heads up to anyone who will be tapped to deliver messages to employees, so they know their role, what’s coming and when.

Because of the nature of change programs, expect to evolve your plans and adapt your materials to the changing needs of the projects and stakeholders. Your efforts are more likely to be successful if you follow a few guiding principles:

  • Be consistent and purposeful about messaging – Ensure everyone receives the same core messages and understands the importance of using them. Reflect the same information in internal communications materials, graphics and intranet content. 
  • Keep leaders at the forefront – Employees are closely watching their leaders and it is up to the communication team to provide leaders with the latest information and tools to keep employees informed.
  • Communicate often with a focus on what employees want to know – Be sensitive to the concerns of front-line employees and what they need to know to deal with uncertainty and changing circumstances. Provide updates when available and be clear about what is in progress. Address myths or rumors with facts and share information in channels most likely to reach them (including providing updates that leaders can share with their teams). Help guide your communications in times of change with this tool:

Communicate in Times of Change Tool

  • Listen carefully and respond religiously – Monitor feedback channels and ask employees what they’re thinking to uncover questions and concerns to address in communication. Set a standard for responding to employee questions or feedback within 48 hours, even if it’s just to let them know their input was received and you are working on finding an answer. Guidance and talking points for handling feedback should be provided to leaders and change agents as well.
  • Celebrate work done in the previous system and highlight successes – While it is good to communicate about the “future state,” it’s also important to acknowledge the achievements of the past. This can help employees feel their efforts are appreciated here and now. As changes roll out and successes are identified, be sure to highlight people who are adopting new ways of working and the positive outcomes they are achieving. Ask change agents and leaders to be on the lookout and bring you success stories you can share.
  • Plan for recognition and ongoing engagement – Work with different functions as needed to align on ways to recognize and reinforce progress and adoption of change. The communications team can provide visibility through internal communications channels, for example, but recognition programs and engagement surveys may be owned by human resources or another team.
  • Remember that it takes time and consistent reinforcementto achieve lasting change – Your communications and recognition activity should continue long after the rollout. By reinforcing key concepts and successes through updated messages and leader tools, you’ll help employees see the change is taking hold and their efforts are successful. 

Creating a change management communication plan

Step_5

 

Evaluate What Should Be Stopped, Started or Continued

Gather input from leaders, change agents and your cross-functional team of advisers to understand what communication is working well and what could be done to better meet employee needs. Ask the tough questions and probe to understand how employees are feeling, what challenges they are facing and what they are worried about.

You can uncover important information in day-to-day conversations, input meetings, follow-up surveys or stakeholder interviews. Consider using these tips to help you listen for what's not being said and ask questions to ensure understanding.

In addition to anecdotal feedback and insights from people on the front lines, some of the things you can use to evaluate your efforts include:

  • Communication metrics – What tools are employees using most (e.g., intranet pages or software tools), which activities are most popular? What is the most used feedback loop?
  • How are employees handling the change? – Use a pulse survey of approximately five questions to consistently poll employees on their knowledge, acceptance and adoption of the change. Compare your results across employee groups and locations to identify topics of concern and adjust communications accordingly.
  • What is getting in the way Watch for trends in questions asked, information requested or comments made and probe with leaders and change agents to understand issues people are facing. Share information with project leaders to prompt possible adjustments to address issues and communicate updates as appropriate.
  • Lessons learned – Many change efforts are done in the spirit of continuous improvement and learning, and your communications plans should be no exception. Learn from your evaluation and adjust your messages, tools and communication cadence to respond to stakeholder needs.

Are you ready to create your own Change Management Communications Action Plan? Download this free template, which aligns with the content in this post, to guide you.

Change Communication Action Plan Template

Sours: https://www.yourthoughtpartner.com/blog/change-management-communication
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Having a Change Management plan template is necessary to carry out change initiatives seamlessly at an organization. Change is a complicated process that is influenced by several factors. Having a well-defined change management plan template by your side can smoothen the process and unburden your management teams.

Change management plans must take into consideration, an organization's processes, communication protocol, training method, and impact analysis, success metrics, and more. Having a well-designed template will organize all your ideas and will act as a log for all the decisions and discussions.

These templates or blueprints help you ensure that everything is in order despite the chaos that change typically causes. Each organization has different needs but the basic approach usually remains the same.

In this article, we will discuss factors you must consider while creating a template for your organization.

What is the Change Management Plan Template?

A change management plan template helps organizations manage the process effectively throughout the change lifecycle and act as a decision log to keep the efforts on track.

A good change management template must be iterative and must learn from the past and to improves the change process. It takes a disciplined approach to adhere to the template. Each template is unique and we will explore them all in this blog post.

5 Typesof Change Management Plan Template

1. Change Management Stakeholder Plan Template 

Identifying what the stakeholders will do and how they will participate during the change is key. This will help you to realize who will be your champion, advocate, driver, and participant.

Change-Management-Stakeholder-Plan-Template

Based on this, you will be able to categorize at what level each stakeholder will be engaged and plan accordingly.

Some crucial questions you will need to address are:

  • What departments are impacted by the change process?
  • Who is going to be the primary and secondary beneficiary of this effort?
  • Who will support and who will drive the change?
  • Who will be the Project Manager during the change process?
  • At what stage of the change will a particular group of people take ownership?
  • Who will be involved from the beginning to the end and why?

The answers to these questions will give you an overview of the people involved in the process and this insight will help you create a basic change Management stakeholder plan template. Categorize the information based on the following

  • Type of participation
  • Responsibility and job role
  • Reason for participation
  • Description of stakeholder

2. ChangeManagementCommunication PlanTemplate 

People generally have a limited capacity to absorb information and since organizational change is a long process, communicating the goals and objectives behind your initiatives is crucial for your success. It is also important because, eventually, it will be your employees who are going to handle change and make it a success.

Change-Management-Communication-Plan-Template

This change management communication plan template will help you overcomeresistanceto change and keep track of all the information that has been passed to the employees.

This is how you should design the communication template:

  • Type of meeting:- Decide whether the meeting will address a new topic or an update on an old one. Specify if it will be one-on-one, team-wide, or company-wide.
  • The topic of discussion:- Decide the topic of discussion and if it is related to people, business processes, or software.
  • Purpose of meeting:- This helps stakeholders realize the importance of the meeting and acts as a reference point for future needs. The purpose of a meeting can be any of the following:
    • A Dialogue specific to the aspect of change.
    • A Vision for the future of change.
    • A Review of the initial draft.
    • Address issues associated with change and the effort required at each stage.
    • Address modification in the current change process.

It is important to make the stakeholders realize the importance of the meeting and it acts as a reference point for future purposes.

  • Type of Message:- Specifying the type and purpose of the message will give stakeholders an idea about the objective of the meeting.
  • Who will communicate:- The plan must define the personnel involved in communicating change in each department. This speaker must be selected carefully based on their job role and impact on the team. For example, a change in the sales process should only be communicated by the Sales Manager and not by the project manager. 
  • Types of the audience:- Defining the target audience will help you to prepare accordingly for your audience and communicate exactly what is in it for them.
  • Method of communication:- Today communication happens via multiple media. It would be ideal to use more than one method to reinforce communication. You can use video conferencing, in-person meetings, in-app announcements, emails, and team chat.

3. ChangeManagement AnalysisTemplate 

Any organization needs a change management template for analysis to track change at each juncture, phase, and process. During the change cycle, a number of decisions are made based on the challenges encountered by the team.

Change-Management-Analysis-Template

Usually, a deviation from the designed plan takes place due to hurdles faced during the execution stage. All this affects the overall project scope which can be tackled if you have an analysis template.

Here arethe points that ananalysis templateincludes:

  • Change Management Model:-  Selecting a change management model can be challenging as you have to consider multiple factors before going with a particular one. Once you have decided on the model, you have to follow the principles of the selected model to analyze the change.
  • Date of issue:- Note the date when you faced an issue as it helps you to keep a track of events. Let's say if you face the same type of issue repeatedly, this template will help you to analyze how many times you have faced such issues and when was the first time you encountered it.
  • Type of issue:- Once you log the date of the issue, it is time to note down the type of issue that you have faced. Once you fill this template you will be able to identify what type of issue is recurring.
  • Type of Action:- This is the most important part of the whole process where you will mention the type of action taken either by you or the team to resolve the issue. If you face such problems in the future, it will be easy for you to find the solution even if the person who resolved it is no longer with the organization. Templates like these can become the subject for a case study within the organization and new hires can study it to learn about the challenges they might face and learn how to overcome it.
  • Date of Resolution:-Mention the date when the issue was resolved. It will give you an idea of how long it took to solve the particular type of issue. If you encounter issues like these in the future, you can estimate the time to resolve them and can allocate resources efficiently.
  • Takeaway:- Mention what you have learned in this process and what impact it had on the business.

4. ChangeManagementRisk Assessment Template

The purpose of having a risk assessment template is to avoid issues before they happen. This way you can plan the risk mitigation strategy well in advance and be prepared throughout the change cycle.

Change-Management-Risk-Assessment-Template

How to create a Risk assessment template:

  • Categorize the risk:-It is ideal to mention the category of the risk to identify the type of issues that are arising. The risk categories could be Health and safety, compliance, technical, operational, strategic, financial, and safety, etc. 
  • IdentifySeverity:- Identify how serious the issue could be and mention whether to mitigate those risks or to completely avoid them. This will help you to create an action plan for the risks you may want to avoid.
  • Create a detailed plan:- Mention the steps you have to take to avoid risk before the execution of a particular change phase.This will serve as a blueprint to help you prepare needed resources if things go bad.
  • Responsibility:- Mention the person and department responsible for the plan.

5. Change ManagementTraining Template 

Change-Management-Training-Template

Your change management efforts can only be realized successfully if you plan your training program in line with your change initiatives.

Here’show to prepare a training template which can withstand the change lifecycle and enable the smooth transition. Identify:

  • What type of training:-Understand what training is essential for your employees and list them down before initiating change.
  • People Involved:-Who will train the employees? Who will decide what they should learn? Who will benefit from it? Understanding this will help you communicate effectively and set the right expectation.
  • Method of training:- Decide the format of the training content and the method that will be used to impart it. There are multiple ways of doing this such as videos, pdf, ppt, simulation, microlearning, and onscreen guidance. It is ideal to select more than one method. Each employee has their preferred way of learning.
  • Requirement:- Check what type of change management tools, facility, and infrastructure is required to make your training efforts a success.
  • Duration of training:- It is always better to know the amount of time required to train the employees as you can plan well in advance and can avoid any potential clashes upfront.
  • Number of sessions:- Now that you know the duration of the training, divide that time into small sessions to make learning more effective. People often tend to forget if they are bombarded with a lot of information in one go. Segregating time for training will solve this.

Go Beyond Planning

Organizational change is no easy task but following the above-mentioned change management plan template will help make it easier. 

You will need a tool to execute your change management plan. Digital Adoption Platform like Apty can provide impactful training with in-app guidance, communicate changes with in-app announcements, and analyze your training efforts successfully with the insight tool.

Simplify Change Management with Apty Digital Adoption Platform

Sours: https://www.apty.io/blog/change-management-plan-templates
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