November 15, 2011

The importance of communicating rationales in organizational change

One starting point in solution-focused change management is to clearly communicate the rationale behind the change goals. In the absence of a clear and positively formulated rationale for the desired change members of the organization may fail to understand why the change is needed and may lack motivation to put effort into the change. Change is credible and acceptable when careful attention is paid to explaining the reasons behind goals, rules and decisions preferably in terms of specific expected advantages.

When clear and positive rationales are given people may begin to understand and value the change. There may be specific external circumstances which are the reason behind the desire to change. They may be new competitive demands, new laws and regulations, new technologies, or new market opportunities. There also may be new views and insights on how to structure the organization or its internal processes in order to improve organizational effectiveness.

A clear communication about the rationales for the changes in language that all employees will be able to understand requires good preparation. This is time well spent. How well you are able to explain simply and positively why the change is needed can be seen as a test of how well you understand it yourself. It is therefore also a test of how legitimate the change is.

Informing everybody in the organization specifically about these reasons can help them to understand why change is needed and benefits it may lead to. This may help them to identify with the change process which helps them to participate and put an effort into it. It also makes them feel as if they have been taken seriously because management has taken the trouble to try to explain specifically why the change is needed.

Managers may underestimate the importance of communicating clearly about the rationale behind what they expect of employees. They may think that employees surely understand why the change is needed, particularly when they have been informed about this once. But, while the managers themselves may have thought about these reasons for a long time, employees usually have not. This is why it may be necessary to deliberately keep on communicating about the rationales, to encourage questions and discussions. When this is done employees tend to be much more motivated for the change.

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