Change is hard but what I have discovered is that it’s the fuel of healthy growth and momentum for every church, ministry, non-profit, and family. Healthy living organisms change and we all hope the ministries we lead are living movements! We all resist change at first so why are we surprised when the people we lead resist the idea of change? Change can be painful but if we lead well it can become a momentum builder. One of the keys to shifting change from a painful experience to a momentum builder is to develop a clear communication strategy that will guide the entire shift. People have a hard time supporting change when they can’t hear and understand the heart behind the change.
Over the past month our team at Grace Community worked through the process changing our service times. We felt led to move to a 2 service format instead of a 3 service format on our largest campus. What we knew was that this was going to be a hard change for people in the service we were eliminating. If you really want to mess with people at church change times! It’s never easy but this was not our first rodeo making a change like this and the first step we took was to develop a communication strategy for the change because what we have learned over the past few years is this…
Major changes in an organization demand careful communication because people just don’t have the mental bandwidth to process major changes quickly.
What I’m saying is that in our over-connected, social media driven culture we all have a hard time paying attention to the changes that are happening around us. We’re all moving at such a fast pace we just don’t hear and have mental space to process change as fast as we think we do. We all act like it’s no big deal until change messes with our lives personally and then we get defensive and shocked at the sudden change that we just missed in our high paced lives. Our fast paced world demands leaders in organizations get used to over communicating needed changes so people can slowly get on board with the change. The more people who embrace the change the better chance that change fuels momentum and not pain!
Here are a few principles that guide our communication strategy when it comes to change…
- Don’t induce change without careful prayer, planning, and feedback. // Never lead a major change in a vacuum, slow down and examine your idea from every side. Change without proper input from the team you lead with will only fuel frustration. Take time to pray, plan, and get feedback before you push change forward in your organization.
- Never rush the process of your timeline. // OK, first make a timeline than follow it! Effective change takes time to advance.
- Inform key leaders first. // Always, always, always inform the volunteers and stakeholders in your organization before you blast it publicly! This just builds trust.
- Answer the why of change. // When you inform people always lean into vision. People need to know the why behind the change. The why of change is the heart of change so be honest and cast visions with confidence.
- Leverage every communication platform. // Announcements, videos, emails, letters, social media posts, meetings, and phone calls can all make a difference. Use them all!
- Allow people to question. // Be humble and allow people to speak up and speak out…they way you respond reveals your heart and builds trust.
- Put change in motion and lead with gratitude. // Say thanks as much as you can as you put change in motion. When people fee thanked for enduring change they are more likely to be flexible later.
- Evaluate and learn for your next major change. // Take time to look back and learn from every change. There are always ways you can improve and lessons to learn.