Some tips for communicating change

News on 24 July 2019

Once a month we let our Managing Director loose and allow her to express her opinion on business related topics and also to share what she’s currently reading.

(She’s pretty opinionated and she likes to read business books, so this keeps her happy!)

Some Tips for Communicating Change

by Emma del Torto

Managers of people need to be clearer in their communication of change.

It is a pretty simple concept, right? But in reality it is not easily executed.

But if we all took some simple baby steps towards better communication and better leadership, our people and our businesses would perform better. And that is the mission, isn’t it?

Take some small baby steps now and a you’ll get a potential giant leap forward for your business (yes, I have been watching coverage of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 first moon landingSmile)

1. Be clear about the mission

We have an established manufacturing client who is going through some changes in the way that they are producing and marketing their product. There is some uncertainty about processes and sales and this translates into nervousness and uncertainty in the employees. Unsurprisingly this has a knock on effect on performance and quality.

Clearly spell out what you are trying to achieve as a business and make sure that you have the right people on the rocket ship. Especially when there is change going on, it is important to get the communication right.

2. Don’t be afraid to deliver ‘bad’ news

At some point in life we all have to tell someone something that we know they don’t want to hear. If we do this with compassion, whilst being able to maintain everyone’s dignity, this is much healthier for everyone.

In our role as HR advisors we have to regularly tell people when they don’t get the job, when they have not passed probation, when their performance is not up to the standard required and, of course, we deliver the bad news of dismissals and redundancies. We all know and remember the names of the Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. But you can bet there were a whole host of hopeful astronauts who had to be told that they had not made the final cut. That would have been devastating news for them to receive.

Some people are better than others at delivering news that is less than positive. I actually think it is largely about our own mindset. After all, we have no control over how the other person will respond to the bad news. We can only control our own feelings and actions.

Essentially you are going to have to find your own style of having the difficult conversation, but here is a helpful book that I read recently on the topic that I would recommend:

If you don’t fancy reading the book, check out the video on Kim Scott’s website:

3. Face to face, then in writing, then face to face again and any questions

Whether it’s an announcement about a change in the way a process is going to be handled, or a change in the chosen supplier or a risk of redundancies – be prepared to deliver this message face to face. I am a big fan of email, but don’t use it to hide behind delivering an important message.

Make the group announcement face to face, in a meeting, in an all team gathering, Zoom or Skype calls or however you normally do things (unless you don’t do this sort of thing and then you need to startSmile). Follow it up in writing in a memo or an email. Be unequivocally clear. This will mean some preparation in advance to make sure you cover everything.

Offer people individual meetings if they are uncertain about the consequences or if they need to know more about how things are going to have an impact on them.

We have recently helped a number of businesses to vary the contract terms of employees to reduce hours and also put some employees onto short time working. Delivering this sort of message face to face is vital.


Whether you are pursuing your own moonshot or you run and manage a team in a more traditional business, there is always going to be the need for change and better communication. The NASA team behind the Apollo 11 mission understood the importance of great communication and clarity.

Why not take a baby step to better communication today? Call us on 03300 414 636