Whenever you plan to make changes to a system, a process, a strategy or generally change the environment that people work in you will need to communicate. The messages typically need to be scripted and planned for the communication needs and actions needed from various groups called stakeholders. They have some unique stake in the process and/or outcome of the change you are planning to implement. Identifying the stakeholders can be a daunting task, but important to undertake. Simply start by making a list of the groups of people who would be affected by the change. Think about functions, think about geographic locations, think about management levels, think about people outside your company who may be affected, think about vendors or partner companies.
The messages you need to communicate could be to explain why things have to change, what is going to change, when and how it is going to change, how the change is going (progress update) and what (if anything) people need to start doing, stop doing or what should change in the way they have acted in the past.
When you start completing the template, do take a bit of extra time talking to others on your change initiative project team to check if you truly identified all stakeholders to include in your communication plan and whether you have correctly identified the messages that the various stakeholder groups would need. Did you select the best way to communicate to those stakeholders – given their need to understand specific details and take actions? Also be sure to get input from others on the Communication Plan once you have completed all the columns. Better planning up front does save you a lot of time during the implementation. There are no short cuts to considering and documenting your communication plan.
- The plan can evolve over time. Do not consider it a static plan which you simply execute. It is okay to review it as the project progresses and to add items which you inadvertently left off when you started the project.
- Do review the plan on a regular basis. When you make a plan it is important to check on the progress: ensure you are actually taking the planned actions and others are taking the actions they were assigned to support your change initiative. Being proactive helps you to take mitigating actions in a timely way when the change initiative project changes course.
- Ensure key people are aware of the communication plan. When people do not know that there is a plan they may take communication matters into their own hands while trying to help the change initiative. Their uncoordinated actions may do the opposite even though their intentions may have been noble. Share the Communication Plan with key managers and participants in the change initiative to ensure all communication efforts are coordinated and executed as planned.