Short on time? Here are the key points:

  • Two aspects of communication warrant change leaders’ attention: (1) gaining input and creating alignment, and (2) sharing plans.
  • Change leaders should involve their team, internal stakeholders, and/or key customers during various phases of business impact and risk mitigation.
  • Incorporate risk mitigation efforts into the overall communication plan.

With change comes risk. Organizations undergoing large-scale change who recognize that it is critical to identify the impact of change on the business and potential risks, have a better chance of successfully implementing the change. Much of this work is led by change leaders throughout the organization who should focus their attention on anticipating, identifying, and mitigating risk – instead of avoiding it.

Consider the following risk factors that are common during times of change:

  • Customer disruption
  • Competitor advantages
  • People and resources (e.g., knowledge, skill gaps, retention, culture)
  • Financial impact (e.g., revenue, expenses, cash flow)
  • Legal, regulatory, or compliance related matters
  • Policies and procedures
  • IT Systems launches or enhancements
  • Structures and incentives (e.g., what behaviors are being reinforced?)

In a previous newsletter, we discussed why change leaders should proactively identify and develop mitigation strategies to address such risks. While leaders typically see the value in risk mitigation, many still undervalue the opportunity to prioritize strategic communication during this time. Two key elements of communication should be leveraged during business impact and risk mitigation: (1) gaining input and creating alignment, and (2) sharing plans.

Gaining Input and Creating Alignment

Throughout the transition, it is essential that leaders involve their team in identifying and prioritizing risks, especially those related to customers or other potential business interruptions. It may also be beneficial to validate risk prioritization with their managers, internal stakeholders, and/or key customers. The perspective of others may uncover additional risks or business impact concerns. It will also have the added benefit of increasing awareness and improving stakeholder and team member alignment on potential options and trade-offs.

Sharing Plans

Equally important to gaining input from others, is sharing plans before they are implemented. Once a leader develops a risk mitigation plan, it is essential that they communicate with others to gain alignment on actions and potential trade offs. As it relates to the mitigation plan, leaders should:

  • Share the proposed mitigation plan
  • Outline individual expectations and responsibilities
  • Answer questions transparently
  • Encourage feedback from all involved parties
  • Make changes to the plan as necessary

While this time is primarily used to share expectations and responsibilities, leaders should be comfortable listening and making changes, as needed. Feedback received at this phase may prove invaluable in identifying potential derailers for the mitigation strategy execution.

Please contact us for more information about change planning and implementation. We have been helping organizations, teams, and individuals improve performance and results for over 25 years.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.