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How to communicate effectively to support a change

There are 3 C"s for successful communication to support a change:




As an example, let's examine the latest pandemic messaging for certain regions in Ontario.

1. Communicate clearly

Is saying "we're moving to the grey zone" clear?


What does grey zone even mean? If something is a 'grey area', it means it's unclear and without boundaries. As a colour, grey isn't associated with a sense of urgency.

2. Be concise

Is it concise?


When I saw the messaging online, the link took me to a laundry list of information that provided numerical levels AND colour coding.

Pertinent information wasn't listed on the page, either - it took multiple clicks to get to another page, which then took me to the actual regulations.

3. Compare with existing information

When making a change, it's important to demonstrate what is staying the same. This helps lessen the change impact and creates a sense of stability.

In this case, Ontario moved from a tiered system to a colour-coded system. It would have been helpful to communicate what was staying the same versus what was different. For example, how does the new colour coding compare to the old numbering system?

In this case, the use of the word lockdown and confusion over the new system led to huge lineups at grocery stores over the weekend. Grocery stores are an essential service so they, along with many other stores, were remaining open throughout 'lockdown'.

So how could these changes have been communicated better?

  1. Clearly define what the grey area means in a couple of sentences, and who is affected. Make sure this information is easy to find and can be accessed in 1 or 2 clicks.

  2. Don't provide an overwhelming amount of information when people only need to focus on a key message. Stick to colour coding OR numerical stages, don't communicate both at the same time.

  3. Use a table or other visual aid to communicate what's changing and what's staying the same. You can also add what action you'd like the reader to take.

You can't always communicate good news but you can always make information easier to understand.

Contact me if you or your organization need help managing change. I'm here to help.

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