Change Communication: More than You-Rah-Rah


Marge Combe 

Wisconsin, USA

Change communication – a topic that makes confident leaders into puddles of uncertainty.  But not Aaron.  A financial services company was installing new trading software.  It would significantly change their work processes, standardize many currently autonomous decisions, and result in some layoffs.  Aaron, the CEO, had worked tirelessly with his staff to assure a credible communication plan was crafted, emphasizing why the change was needed: a vision for growing the company and the software easing that growth, along with much better regulatory compliance tracking.  Aaron had not shied away from the question of layoffs in the communication plan.

The plan carefully laid out the numbers, broad timing, how people would be treated, and the desire to absorb as many as possible into other positions into the company.  Finally, the communication plan covered an overall plan for the implementation of the new software, including training.  Aaron planned to talk about the software implementation at each of the company’s bi-monthly all-employee meetings.  He felt pretty good about the company’s communication plan.

Aaron did an above-average job in planning for change communications.  Many leaders’ communication plans around change are little more than cheerleading – “You’re going to love this!”, when they know everyone is going to hate it for a while.  But Aaron might have done even better by thinking about communication along four concurrent paths.


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About the Author

marge-combeMarge Combeflag-usa 

Wisconsin, USA

Marge Combe is a coach/consultant with Vernal Management Consultants, LLC (VMC), a firm specializing in the professional development and effective business practices of leaders and leadership teams (www.vernalmgmt.com).  VMC currently coaches a number of leaders and business owners in the project management profession, in North America, Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Rim, and South America.  Marge joined VMC in 2008 after more than 35 years in portfolio management, strategic planning and large-scale change management for Northwestern Mutual and Whirlpool Corporation.   She has leveraged that experience and a passion for coaching and mentoring into a consulting and leadership coaching role with special focus on her roots: change management, strategic planning, and project management.  Marge is a former PMI board director and Chair of the Strategic Planning and Program Alignment Committee.  She was instrumental in shaping and leading a Fortune 500 Project Management Benchmarking Forum.  She is certified in coaching through Lominger International and in emotional intelligence through the Institute for Health and Human Potential.  She received the 2007 Woman of Influence Award for mentoring, and the 2010 Leadership Excellence Award from Marquette University.  Marge can be contacted at [email protected].