Communicating change – avoiding the panic


We have recently received details about our new recycling services….new bins, new days, new items for collection (no more surruptious visits to the bottle bank after a party!).

There has been lots of communications in recent weeks and months from the local Council about the changes.  The fact that the garden bins now need paying for in advance, and the dates that the changeover will take place.

Regardless of all the information, there has been a myriad of questions and queries on the local village Facebook and social media pages about what goes out when; what is and isn’t being collected; why dates are changing and in some cases double checking when the end of September is coming as this is the changeover timeframe!

It goes to show that change alarms people.

No matter how much information is provided, the idea of working with new systems and processes causes angst and once one person starts asking for clarification on points, everyone jumps on the bandwagon to make sure they fully understand what is happening.

Communication is key….but equally it also goes to prove that on matter how much information you provide, someone will always want more.

Some guidelines for assisting with change and the communication of it:-

  • KISS – Keep it simple and short.  Too much information in one long paragraph can be overwhelming when there is so much to take in and assimilate to make sure you understand what is needed and you have the danger of losing the point of what you are trying to say so in the end no one can remember what the original message was. See what I mean!!!
  •  Include your audience in the early discussions to take all views on board
  •  Patience – just because you know and understand what is happening, don’t assume your audience does. You may need to repeat yourself several times to get understanding
  •  5 W’s – Who, What, Where, When and Why.  Always good starting points for making sure you have answered as many questions as possible but remember, you will be repeating yourself for clarification.
  • Communication – just because you understand what is happening, you have to look at it from the position of your audience and make sure everything is as clear and informative as possible.  You won’t please all of the people all of the time but endeavour to get the majority on board and they’ll help spread your message.
  •  Use a variety of methods for communicating – like any good trainer, remember people take in information in a variety of ways including the written word, pictorial, via social media, face to face conversations, meetings, etc.

Accept that there will be an element of panic no matter how good your preparatory messages and information but by maintaining a sense of calm and clear direction, with good communications will aid everyone in their understanding and hopefully a sense of calm will then descend.

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