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How to Build a Clear Change Management Communication Plan

July 13, 2022

We talk a lot about the importance of communication when implementing organizational change, and that’s because it really is the key to lasting success. You can have a new, truly transformative system or process, but without clear communication, it still can fail. It’s crucial that before you roll out your new system, you build a change management communication plan as your foundation. Our step-by-step process can help you build a reliable template for better messaging, engagement, and integration.

The main four questions you need to ask are who, what, how, and when:

1. Who is your audience?
2. What is your message(s)? 

3. How will you deliver your message(s)?
4. When will you deliver them?

Whom Are You Speaking To?

The first aspect of your communication plan, and the one that will guide the remainder of your change management template, is who is your audience? Who are the people – the stakeholders –  that need to receive, understand, and execute your message?

It’s helpful to break down your audience analysis into groups, such as executive leaders, direct supervisors, and first-line employees. You should also consider: 

  • Who are your change sponsors – the executives or managers that will lead and promote the change?
  • Who are your peer influencers – employees that others may look up to who can be your cheerleaders and boost engagement?

Analyzing your audience and then breaking them into specified groups will help you craft targeted messaging throughout the implementation of your organizational change.

What Is Your Message?

Once you know your audience, you should decide what each group must know for each phase of your change management plan. Employees’ basic-knowledge needs center around the what, why, and when of the process. 

They will, of course, need to know what’s changing, but they also need to understand why the change is necessary and how it will benefit and improve the organization or their work-life. Clearly explain the difference between the old and the new, the present and the future.

Next, while it’s important that your stakeholders embrace your vision, they should also understand what’s expected of them: roles, actions, and function. 

Lastly, they’ll need to know when the change(s) will happen so they are prepared both mentally and practically for process adjustments or system integrations and updates.

Your audience should also determine how you craft your message – its tone and structure – and, of course, consistency and clarity are crucial. Anticipate what questions might arise and be prepared with straightforward answers.

How Will You Deliver Your Message?

For each message that you create for your change communication plan, you should assess two things: Who is the best person or group to deliver it, and how should it be delivered? Your answer may not be the same throughout every phase of the change process. 

Where an executive change sponsor might be a perfect choice for your initial, high-level message, a direct supervisor might be a better choice for a more specific implementation or personal impact message.

Besides answering who in your change template, you need to answer how.

What are the best communication channels for message delivery: 

  • A company or department-wide meeting? 
  • A targeted email? 
  • A survey? 
  • A small group luncheon? 
  • Digital task management, social, or newsroom boards? 
  • One-on-one interviews? 

Think about who is best positioned to deliver the message and in what way your message should be delivered so that it will have the most positive impact on your end goals. Make sure that roles and expectations for each of your messengers are clearly defined, and that they provide timely feedback. Provide all the necessary tools so they can perform their responsibilities accurately and efficiently.

When Should Your Message Be Delivered?

Timing is everything. After you know whom you’re speaking to, what messages you’ll be creating, who will be delivering them, and how, you need to think about when. 

A message might be crafted to perfection, and you might’ve nailed the right person to communicate it, but if you deliver it too early or too late, it will lose its impact or, worse, incur a negative reaction that diminishes employee engagement and hinders your goals. In short, give your audience the message they need when they need it.

Part of your communication plan template should also include recognition and celebration. Efforts should be rewarded. When stakeholders meet a goal or make a critical contribution, show that their hard work is appreciated. This will, in turn, encourage further positive engagement with your goals.

Make Space for Feedback

The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth, so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” A good change communication plan must include avenues for feedback from your stakeholders. You should provide accessible lines of communication for questions and comments on what is and isn’t working. 

Your first-line employees, especially, are crucial to the overall success of your organizational change. You need them to champion your cause, and their first-hand experience will be instrumental in successfully integrating the new system or process into your agency. 

In addition, prompt responses are also one of the most important facets of your change management plan. Two-way communication is vital for optimal employee engagement.

Besides needing feedback channels throughout each phase of the process, you should provide continued options for employee engagement long after you’ve “passed go”. This will ensure the long-term health of your organizational change and the continued progress of your goals.

Champions of Change Management for Federal Agencies

Change can be difficult. Lasting change even more so. That’s why GovStrive is here. 

We provide the knowledge and tools necessary for building successful change management plans. With our proven expertise, you can set a clear template for implementing resilient organizational change no matter how big the impact or critical the stakes. Learn more about the power of GovStrive today.



GovStrive equips executive leadership with the information to facilitate organizational transparency and informed workforce decision-making across your agency. Check out FedChart for more information.

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