Change management communication - What do you want to achieve?

When you ask 100 leaders what good change management is all about, “change management communication” will undoubtedly appear somewhere at the top of the answer list. Indeed, change communication is an essential element of an effective change management process and at the same time it is a very broad theme. Information sessions are communication, posters on the wall in the office are communication, but also the way in which a leader speaks about change at the coffee machine is communication.

In this article we highlight 1 topic that should help you as a change leader to communicate more effectively, the CENTER OF GRAVITY.

What do we mean by center of gravity of a communication?

The communication center of gravity answers the following key question: What do I want to achieve with my communication? In other words: What should be the result of my communication (my message) with the receiving party?

It seems like a simple question, but practice tells us that it is often not very easy to determine the center of gravity. Often people do not reflect on what they want to achieve with a specific communication moment.

This is partly because as a leader of change you often have high expectations of your communication moments. Certainly when it concerns more formal communication moments (eg kick off meetings, quarterly updates, …), the expectations about their impact are high.

But if you have not focused on the communication center of gravity from the start, then your communication risks missing that positive impact completely.

How do you determine the communication center of gravity?

Determining the center of gravity for your communication (message) ideally happens before you shape the rest of your story.

We often use the following scheme to support the search.

The scheme consists of three axes (information, perception, action). Each of those axes has a key question that needs to be answered.

  1. Information: To what extent is your communication aimed at informing (merely sharing information with your target audience)?
  2. Perception: To what extent is your communication aimed at changing the perception of your target audience? When people have a negative feeling about your change project, your goal can be to influence the opinion of your audience (their perception).
  3. Action: To what extent is your communication aimed at encouraging your audience to take action? Do you want your audience to do something?

By plotting your answer to each of the three questions on the axes (the gradation on the axes goes from low to high, from little to much) you get a view of the center of gravity that you have in mind with your change management communication.

The center of gravity as a starting point

Have a look at below triangle:

The triangle clearly shows the main goal of your communication: you want to change the perception of your audience. Making the ultimate goal of your communication clear, will help you in shaping the message

The center of gravity determines the rest of the message. It will help determine how you convey your message, what you tell, what you expect a response to, the support you must provide afterwards,….

Be realistic

An important pitfall is trying to make a difference on all fronts at the same time. Although the different sub-aspects can be interwoven in one communication, it is often not realistic to believe that in one communication you can achieve tangible results on all three axes at the same time.

Not focusing on one of the axes, will dilute your message and as a result will reduce the impact of your communication.

So when you shape that next communication (be it an email, an information session, a team meeting, …), build in a moment of reflection for yourself, to determine where you want to place the focus, what you want to achieve with your communication.