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Change Management Communications Plan Tactics

As a follow-up to my previous blog where we chatted about the components of a Change Management (CM) Communications plan, this blog focuses on the specific tactics to utilize when implementing the plan. To get a better sense of how to create the plan, please quickly review my previous blog “Creating the Change Management Communications Plan” which details the key components that the plan should include. At this point the CM communications plan is internally focused, as we are initially concerned about working with employees to create advocacy, build support, and minimize resistance to the proposed change.

It is critical to utilize a mix of tactics when implementing the plan. The tactics should be customized, based on the unique needs of the employees with whom you are communicating. Recently, I worked with a client that had many tenured veterans that were going to be impacted by a new HR system. Many of these individuals struggled with the Internet, so a tactical plan involving social media options would have been an epic failure. We designed a plan that involved a lot of town-hall meeting, brown bag lunch and learn sessions, and one-on-one mentoring sessions. These tactics were effective in getting these tenured employees to minimize their resistance to the old system (yes, they saw no problem with using timesheets), and in a few instances actually turned some of these employees into amazing advocates for the new system.

In another project with a mid-size city implementing a new finance system, there was a mix of millennial, Gen X, and baby boomers, and they were frequently at odds with each other. We designed a customized approach based on how the employees self- identified. Though the messages were similar, the tactics differed, for example:

  • Millenials – Social Media Tools (Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, Blogs, webinars)
  • Gen X – SharePoint site, Newsletter Training Sessions, Focus Groups, Café Sessions
  • Baby boomers – Union Update meetings, Department Meetings, Executive memos

It is so critical to keep the messaging consistent in this multi-channel approach because if there are resistors out there they will seize upon the inconsistent messages in an attempt to create FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) about the project. Though this adds a layer of complexity to the communications plan it is a critical success factor, as I have witnessed employees attempt to sabotage projects. Though it is challenging to create consistent messages, it can be really be fun when you have the “old school” and “new school” working in lockstep to create something remarkably good.

Check out my previous 12 Change Management Blogs at:

Change Happens—How Do You Manage It?


The Impact of Ignoring Change


Getting it Right: Critical Success Factors for Change Management Initiatives, Part 1


Getting it Right: Critical Success Factors for Change Management Initiatives, Part 2


Creating the Secret Sauce – Selecting Change Management Champions


Why Do We Resist? Categorizing the Different Types of Resistance


“People don’t Resist Change. They Resist Being Changed!”


“Whosoever Desires Constant Success must Change his Conduct with the Times.”


“The Greatest Danger in Times of Turbulence is not the Turbulence; it is to Act with Yesterday’s Logic.”


Converting the Dissenter: Part Two


Converting the Dissenter: Part Three


Creating the Change Management Communications Plan


Spencer Stern specializes in assessing the business and process impact of new technology-based solutions, ranging from enterprise-wide software systems to wireless communications networks. In 2008 he launched Stern Consulting where he continues to focus on assessing the financial impact of large-scale municipal strategic implementations. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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Pat Fiorenza

Really interesting post, Spencer, thanks for sharing.I’ve been in situations where FUD has occurred, it’s one of the hardest things to manage or be part off on a team. I think when these situations occur you really need to step back and return to goals of the project, hopefully those of which the employee agreed too. That’s part of the importance of the communication plan as you’ve identified.

From my experiences, whatever the plan or project you are implementing, a shared vision and goal is important – but what I think is more important is to get colleagues to commit to these goals for the good of the team, not self promotion or advancement. Those should happen naturally anyways. I’ve had the whole spectrum of project experiences, the ones that work best are when people commit to something above themselves and work towards the greater good of a project. Those goals should be clearly articulated, front and center.

I’m interested in the second example that you presented. It must have been really challenging to keep your messaging consistent and balance the generational rifts at the workplace. I’d be interested if you had any further suggestions or how you managed those tensions and kept consistency. Did you fear maybe even making the rift worse by segmenting out the employees by generation? Thanks!

Spencer Stern

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for the great feedback. Prior to segmenting the employees we surveyed them to determine how they like to process information. Based on the results we developed the categories, so tension was minimized because the employees opted into the groups they were eventually placed in. We actually had some fun with it, using alternative channels to communicate with the segments. For example, we had the baby boomers produced a you tube video targeted at the millenials which helped foster a spirit of partnership across the segments.

Pat Fiorenza

That’s a pretty cool model you used, sounds like a lot of fun. The YouTube example is a great team building exercise and way to a promote partnership between the groups in tension, thanks again for your comments.