Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Flipboard 0 geralt / Pixabay “Change” is a word that brings out a variety of emotions in people, very few of them positive. From nervous to unsettled to off-kilter to terrified and just about everything in between, it’s human nature to be unsure of the word. At work, it can be even scarier. Change – which is inevitable – can have a significant impact on employees, not to mention clients, customers and other constituents. A 2017 study from the American Psychological Association found that workers experiencing recent or current change – about half of the respondents – were more than twice as likely to report chronic work stress compared with employees who reported no recent, current or anticipated change (55 percent vs. 22 percent). Leadership often underestimates the impact changes have on employees, says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “If they damage their relationship with employees, ratchet up stress levels and create a climate of negativity and cynicism in the process, managers can wind up undermining the very change efforts they’re trying to promote,” he said in a statement. If you lead or contribute to your organization’s communications function, the good news is that you have plenty of tools at your disposal that can mitigate how employees process, react to and ultimately navigate what’s happening at work. Instead of fearing change, here are five ways to leverage communications to make the most of it – and propel your organization into the future: Assess and Plan. Numerous studies have shown that employee stress levels are directly tied to the amount of control they have over their surroundings. And while nothing can wreak havoc on feelings of control like change, proactive, transparent communications can lay the groundwork for positive movement. First, gather as much information as you can, and try to determine what you don’t know. Then develop a plan, share it with your team and put it into motion. Listen. During a transition period, it’s crucial to be transparent with your stakeholders. Share information but also engage, making them part of the process. This will allow them to have their voices heard, and it also will bring a fresh perspective to the dialogue. Understand and acknowledge that you may not have everything worked out, and when someone offers constructive criticism, be willing to take it. Don’t withhold information, as it has a way of eventually coming out, and it’s better to have it come from you. You can host listening sessions, build out your intranet and throughout it all, make sure that people have a way to contribute – and when you hear feedback, take action. It’s OK to alter your course, bobbing and weaving until you get to the best final product you can. And when individuals in your organization realize that their thoughts have been considered, they’re more likely to take ownership in the messaging and ultimately serve as ambassadors for the change. Communicate. Just six in 10 employed adults say they are satisfied with their employer’s communication practices, so the bar is fairly low to exceed expectations, especially when change comes calling. You can make significant headway by communicating clearly and simply. Start with the facts – give employees a rational read on the situation, warts and all. Then tell them what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, who’s going to do what and, most importantly, why. Arming them with the facts will give them confidence to have a voice in the conversation while making sure they are on the same page as the business. Of course, there will be some variance when it comes time to put the plan into action, however, putting the right tools in the box will help guide the narrative and get results. To ensure your team members are on brand and to equip them to share your messages, consider creating a toolkit that will empower them to represent your organization in an informed, concise manner. Include key messages and talking points, tangible facts, social media ideas, applicable timelines and information about where they can go or who they can contact to learn more. Embrace it. The axiom is true: We often can’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose how to react to it. John Sweeney, Fortune 500 innovation trainer, author and co-owner of the country’s longest-running satirical comedy theater, the Brave New Workshop (a client), often refers to change as fuel – an opportunity for innovation and growth. “People in the mindset of discovery don’t seem to be as jarred or set back or even surprised by change,” he says. “They see the next circumstance in their life as simply a piece of information and defer judgment on it in order to process it and find how it can help them move forward.” That mindset of discovery Sweeney refers to needs to start at the top and can set the tone for the entire organization to look at change as an opportunity. Measure. When you anticipate change, gather baseline metrics, assess and act accordingly, then measure every step of the way. Listen to your colleagues, your industry and your competitors by monitoring traditional and social media and keeping an eye on tone, sentiment and other “softer” metrics. Respond when you see a potential issue, fight misconceptions with facts and share as much information as you can. Change is coming. And a planful yet flexible communications initiative – anchored by these five elements – can be an extremely effective method of helping your organization sidestep pitfalls and propel it into the future. Sara Grasmon contributed to this post. Twitter Tweet Facebook Share Email This article was written for Business 2 Community by Kane Pepi.Learn how to publish your content on B2C Author: Kane Pepi <p>Kane Pepi is an experienced financial and cryptocurrency writer with over 2,000+ published articles, guides, and market insights in the public domain. Expert niche subjects include asset valuation and analysis, portfolio management, and the prevention of financial crime. Kane is particularly skilled in explaining complex financial topics in a user-friendlyView full profile ›More by this author:VoIP Basics: Everything Beginners Should Know!Bitcoin Investment, Trading & Mining: The Ultimate Guide for BeginnersIs This a Better Way to Set Your 2020 Goals and Resolutions?