The Benefits of Being Honest and Communicating During Change

Any time an organization makes a change, it reaches a fork in the road with several differing paths. Should the change be communicated to employees? Do the employees need to know about the change? Should only part of the story be shared?

Every situation is different and carries unique consequences, but for the most part, it’s a good idea to be as transparent as possible with employees. We as humans crave to understand the world around us, and we despise the feeling of being left out. Communication is one of the most important aspects of employee engagement, and keeping employees in the dark is a bad idea.

Consider these Do's and Don’ts as you share organizational change with employees.

DO: Communicate what you know.

Communication fosters employee trust, especially when the information isn’t rosy. It’s best to be honest with your employees. Even if a negative change is coming, employees will feel valued and appreciate that you trust them to handle the information as adults. Staying mum opens you up to the dreaded rumor mill.

DON’T: Stay completely quiet until you have every single detail.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that waiting until you have the full picture is wise. But when you fail to communicate, employees will fill in the gaps themselves, often with inaccurate information. Even if you don’t know every detail of an upcoming change, be transparent and give employees the broad scope of what’s happening. Continue to communicate as more information arises.

DO: Communicate often.

Keep the lines of communication open. Between social media and never-ending access to technology, employees today are continually soaking up new information. Possessing up-to-date data is no longer a desire – it’s an expectation. If employees feel information is being withheld from them, they lose trust in the organization.

DON’T: Keep quiet because you don’t want to rock the boat.

Spoiler alert: Information about a change is going to get out one way or the other. You get to decide whether that information is accurate or reliable or the stuff of rumors. It may not always be comfortable to talk about change, but if you get out in front of the story, you control it and keep truth at the forefront. Don’t leave employees to fall back on unreliable sources.

DO: Honor your employees’ curiosity.

Engaged employees are invested in the organization’s success. Respecting that investment creates a familial, we’re-all-in-this-together atmosphere and secures employee buy-in. Consider using a pulse survey before an upcoming meeting to facilitate an “Ask Me Anything” session to understand what employees want to know and address their concerns.

DON’T: Skirt questions.

You’re not fooling anyone by avoiding employees’ questions. Just be straightforward and honest with them. There may very well be information you can’t share with them yet, and that’s OK. Tell them everything you feel comfortable sharing while letting them know you’ll provide updates as you receive them. When concrete information arises, they’ll be prepared.