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Posted on 12.07.2016

Change Communications: Maintaining Focus and Trust in Uncertain Times

The healthcare industry is no stranger to change, but most agree that 2017 stands to be a particularly turbulent year. From “repeal and replace” to the impacts of MACRA to the pending changes in overtime rules, healthcare leaders must prepare for another wave of significant industry change.  

When organizations face uncertainty and change – whether it’s new leadership, new technology, rebounding from a crisis or adapting to new policies and regulations – they need a plan for engaging employees and keeping them focused on the task at hand. Change management

The right strategic communications can help maintain employee focus and foster trust – even in the most uncertain times. Consider the following strategies when navigating changes in the industry or changes in your people, your business processes or your technology.

Commit to your mission and vision:  Reaffirm the organization’s commitment to its mission and vision and provide examples for managers and employees to incorporate the mission and vision into their daily routines. This commitment provides a focus and rallying point for employees during periods of rapid change.

Set a positive tone:  Resist the urge to let problems or shortfalls dominate your communications. Instead, focus on helping stakeholders understand how the organization is going to manage the change, and highlight any benefits that may come from it.

Identify ambassadors:  Consider forming a small working group to help inform the transition process and serve as ambassadors for change.

Ensure the consistency and appropriateness of your message:  Utilize cascading communications to deliver consistent, transparent messages to target audiences, and embrace that “one size does not fit all.”  Tailor the tone, content and amount of information based on specific audiences and needs.

Raise your visibility:  A time of change is not a time for leadership to become absentee – despite the many responsibilities that may take you away from the office or put you behind closed doors. Increase visibility and interaction between the leadership team and staff across the organization through regular interactions, including town hall meetings, staff meetings and huddles.

Foster two-way dialogue:  Two-way communication is absolutely vital to understand how your messages are being received and how your audiences are perceiving the proposed change.  Establish feedback loops with dedicated email boxes or phone lines, by conducting “rounding” or walk-throughs, and holding informal gatherings at all levels of the organization.

Build trust: Build trust among your employees by being visible, accessible and transparent. Create opportunities for employees to ask questions and let them know what information you can share, what information you can’t share and when they can expect further updates.

 

By incorporating these internal communications strategies into your change management plan, your organization can stay on course during this next big wave of change. 

For more information on internal communications, read how to Share Your Strategic Vision, Avoid Being Too Casual in Internal Communications, and Treat the Cause (Not the Symptoms) of Organizational Issues.

 

Susanne Powelson is a Vice President at Lovell Communications. Connect with Susanne at: Susanne@lovell.com

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