Line Managers, the Missing Link in Change Management

Line Managers, the Missing Link in Change Management

Prosci’s research into the effectiveness of change management communications reveals that 70% of respondents surveyed say that they prefer hearing personal impact messages from their direct line manager. This is a startling figure given how much of IT change comms seems to be an all-staff email from the IT manager telling everyone that the file server is being migrated to SharePoint over the weekend. This is the same IT manager who already regularly emails staff with downtime notifications and reminders not to click suspicious links, so it’s maybe not surprising that this sender scores a magnificent 1% preference score in the survey.

Of course, line managers are not always effective at delivering communications. A customer recently remarked that they preferred not to get news from their boss because they hoarded information and used it as a tool to show favouritism to those in their inner circle. Apart from the many layers of HR issues that need to be unpacked from that little horror story, there is a point to be aware of; the same Prosci research quoted earlier also tells us the 75% of respondents say the CEO and Executive Management (50% and 25% respectively) are the preferred senders of organisational messages.

So, what’s difference between organisational and personal impact messages?

Organisational messages paint the big picture, for example, “we’re moving from Webex to Teams”. The personal impact message will depend on who’s hearing it.

Sam from Sales will be celebrating that they can now book their own meetings without needing a license, while Alex from accounting might be alarmed at the prospect of having to rebook all the auditor appointments. In both cases, the personal impact message will need to be fine-tuned to the recipient, and this is where the line manager, supported by champions (you do have champions, right?) and the project team can deliver effective change messages to support the change.

To summarise, you don’t just need to plan the message content and schedule, but also carefully consider the scope of the message, it’s target audience and the most effective messenger.

If you would like to know more, please get in touch to learn about how change management can improve the success of your projects, or even if the project is already closed, how we can help boost adoption.

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