Top 8 Internal Communications Strategies for Change Management

06 Oct 2023


Organizations face rapid and constant change due to the introduction of new technologies, economic uncertainties, and demographic shifts within the workforce. For this reason, the resultant need for a change management framework becomes obvious.

Change management is also needed during mergers and acquisitions. In these environments, getting stakeholder buy-in from all departments within your organization often seems insurmountable, but it can be done.

This article dives into the concept of change management and shows how to develop an effective plan for achieving the best possible outcomes. You’ll also discover advanced communication techniques, such as using credible sources and maintaining transparency.

What is change management?

In its simplest form, change management is a collection of strategies and approaches to help ease the burden of change within an organization. This process typically moves through several phases:

  • Unawareness
  • Awareness
  • Understanding
  • Acceptance
  • Ownership

The most challenging period for organizations seeking change is between the “understanding” and “acceptance” phases. Stakeholders—especially employees—often react emotionally to change.

For example, during the initial “awareness” phase, most companies do an excellent job getting their employees excited about improving operations, implementing better policies, or affecting social awareness.

Most people are on board with making the company a better place to learn, grow, and increase productivity.

Unfortunately, when the “rubber meets the road” and the difficult work of implementation begins, many within an organization regret having “signed on” to the program. It becomes even worse if no internal communications are in place to ensure an orderly change management process.

Effective communication is vital to the success of any change management program. When leveraged correctly, it can get you to the ownership phase much quicker, where employees utilize teamwork and commitment instead of being mired in skepticism and inaction.

The most critical outcome for enacting any change management program is to decrease the time between the “understanding” and “acceptance” phases so you can get on with the difficult task of implementation.

Here are the steps for doing that.

1. Develop a plan.

First, set up a framework for your change management policy. Include all responsible parties and the rules governing them. Also, provide general information about what you want to accomplish through the various changes.

2. Map the desired outcomes.

Set clear goals and outcomes. Choose which key performance indicators (KPIs) to use and provide specific benchmarks to reach. These can include:

  • Change awareness percentages
  • Number of employees supporting the changes
  • Skill-gap identification
  • Time spent on training each process
  • Feedback analysis

Employee surveys are one way to gather the data. Another is conducting roundtable discussions with upper-level staff. Whichever method you choose, you must have a defined plan for tracking progress before implementing any changes. 

3. Map key stakeholders.

A stakeholder map is a diagram showing who the key people are in your organization. They can be executives, managers, employees, or shareholders. Simply put, these people have a vested interest in your company, brand, or product.

Mapping key stakeholders helps identify:

  • Necessary roles within your organization
  • Subject matter experts within each department
  • Possible change management leaders
  • Those who may be the most reluctant to change

The first thing to do is identify the key stakeholders in the process and determine their level of involvement. Then, assign each person a specific task within the change management process.

4. Utilize internal comms.

Change management only works when you have the correct process and policy documentation. This written content includes:

  • Change Management Policies.  Your change management policy details what you are trying to accomplish with the changes. It also identifies the reason for the changes and who will be involved.
  • Standards. Operational, administrative, and change control standards outline how to implement your change control policies. These guidelines are not as detailed as specific work procedures but provide general instructions for implementing your change management program.  Standards also show who is responsible for carrying out specific change management tasks.
  • Work Tasks. Unless you can convey your changes at the most granular level, the rest of your change management efforts won’t matter. Work tasks provide employees with detailed instructions to avoid ambiguity concerning the desired outcomes.

5. Select your channels.

Disseminate internal comms using the correct channels within your organization. Start with the most obvious choices, including:

  • Web. Develop dedicated web pages on your company site to highlight key features of your change management program. It’s best to use password protection to ensure confidentiality.
  • Intranet. Your in-house intranet is a good choice for sharing vital knowledge with your employees and upper-level staff. Sensitive, proprietary information can be password protected, or you could invest resources into creating a separate company-wide wiki site.
  • Social Media. Be careful here. While Facebook, X, and Instagram offer value for building trust and confidence with employees and customers, information you don’t necessarily want your competitors to have about your company can leak out fast. Instead, making general statements about the direction your company is willing to take will help motivate all stakeholders to take the journey with you.
  • Email. Mass emails are okay to get a general message to all employees concerning your change management strategy. For upper-level management, however, use a more targeted approach, addressing each person by name and their expected roles in the process.
  • Live Meetings. In-person meetings—whether you hold them at a company-wide event, closed-door sessions with managers, or one-on-one with immediate supervisors—can make a positive impression on those who are often reluctant to change.

Of course, you will likely deliver your finished policies and procedures over digital channels. If this is the case, be sure to password-protect sensitive documents.

You may also want to limit employee engagement to onsite viewing only. In other words, they could only view sensitive information on company-owned computers or devices at their workstations.

6. Train employees in the new procedures.

Photo by form PxHere

One of the best ways to communicate new changes to your policies, standards, or procedures is through training. While standard classroom training is still valid, it’s best to use a wide variety of methods to keep employee interest.

Interactive Learning

Interactive learning and role-playing work well for front-line customer service employees. Learning what to say during a challenging exchange with a demanding customer goes a long way to helping the employee get through tricky situations.

Staggered Instruction

For complex workflows, staggered instruction works well to avoid overwhelming individual workers. Employees retain the information longer by learning new procedures a little at a time, utilizing the teachings more effectively.


The latest trend in corporate training is gamification to help workers at all levels retain what they’ve learned. It involves using goals and games to make learning more fun and enjoyable.

For example, gamification uses a reward system of digital tokens employees can receive when getting the correct answers during an online training session. When they save up a specified number of tokens, they can trade them for cash or prizes. It incentivizes participants to learn the new procedures while getting more people on board with the changes.

7. Get feedback early on.

The whole idea behind change in the first place is to increase performance across all areas of your organization. Part of that effort involves listening to your employees, so it makes sense to get their feedback.

Once you announce your plans for change, you’ll receive a broad spectrum of feedback, ranging from total support to utter disgust. These emotions are normal and typically evolve during the entire change management process.  For this reason, you must gauge employee reactions carefully.

Unfortunately, the most vocal employees tend to drown out those who may feel uncomfortable sharing their feedback with upper-level management. To reach these people, it’s best to use employee surveys. You can make your own or hire a writing agency to create and manage them.

8. Collect KPI data.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurable metrics used to track the performance of your change management program. Incorporate them the same way you would for any other business activity. KPIs can be quantifiable or qualitative, depending on their purpose within your change management program.

Quantifiable KPIs:

  • Percentage of surveys received
  • Number of benchmarks hit on time
  • Percentage of attendees at training sessions
  • Costs of change implementation
  • Overall improvement percentages

Qualitative KPIs:

  • Employee engagement with the changes
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Brand loyalty
  • Customer loyalty

Use a combination of quantitative and qualitative KPIs to track change management performance across your entire organization. The method you use will depend on:

  • The type of data you collect
  • Stakeholder needs
  • Reporting frequency
  • Data collection sources

Additional Tips

Many nuances exist during the change management process, no matter the size of your company. Here are four more tips that may help.

Use credible sources within the company.

The idea of changing your company’s policies or procedures can come from someone other than the CEO. Others may initiate the process as well.

For example, an engineer or safety officer may find problems that could develop into catastrophic failure, leading to accidents or injuries within a workplace. In these instances, they would initiate a report and request procedural changes.

Sources such as these are invaluable to increasing credibility with your employees. The closer the source is to front-line workers, the better.

For example, when immediate supervisors direct the changes, rather than the CEO or upper management, the information becomes more trustworthy to those most affected.

Communicate often.

The success of your organizational change management program is highly dependent upon the frequency of communication with key stakeholders. Too little information given out infrequently is a key factor for employee resistance.

During the change management process, the sweet spot for disseminating information to key stakeholders is at least once per week. Still, it’s best to know your employees and their needs to determine the level and frequency of communication needed.

Maintain transparency and openness.

Successful communication during the change management process depends on the transparency level you provide. Negative feelings by employees are often brought about by a lack of information and being kept in the dark.

You can overcome this tendency by offering open and honest communication regularly. This strategy will help better meet the needs of the employees during organizational changes.

Continue tracking.

Continually monitor and evaluate relevant data concerning your new policies and procedures. Use the collected data to take appropriate action and make further changes when possible.


Quick Recap

Change management is the practice of incorporating changes into an organization in a timely manner and with as few hiccups as possible. Unfortunately, too many companies struggle with employee resistance and spend too much time and money implementing changes.

This article has given you a basic framework for overcoming those objections. Effective internal communication is critical to a successful change management program: The more you communicate with key stakeholders during the process, the quicker your changes will be implemented.

Steve Epperson 

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