Communication vs Training

Posted on February 14, 2014 · Posted in Best Practices

Communication vs Training for Change Management

One day I was talking with Reisman’s senior change management associate who “owned” the creation and implementation of a comprehensive change management strategy for one of our global clients.  He said something that piqued my curiosity about his observation of companies going through major change, such as streamlining business processes, introducing new systems, reducing duplication across regions, redefining roles to increase collaboration, and more.

“People in companies often don’t know when to use a communication vs a training solution to support change.”

Communication — the Five W’s

He explained communication to support successful change management specifically answers the 5W’s — who, what, where, when, and why.

Why is really important; clarifying why this is happening and why this is important to me as the employee is the first step.  Is our company expanding into new markets, moving a data center, rolling out new systems?

Who is creating the change, who will be affected and who is resisting the change is next.

Where. Change can be localized or corporate-wide, or where some departments or geographical areas are affected more than others.

What is changing?  A new content management system, process, product, roles, spinning off a division?

When will the change occur? Will it be done in sections or will it be done all at once like a system implementation with a specific launch date? Change management can be seen as a finite project with a target end date, or as an ongoing initiative in which case change is continuous and never ends.

Training — the How

Training, however, deals with the how –  how things are being done today and how will they be done in the future. Training is about people thinking and working differently about how and why they do their work. It can involve teaching a step-by-step process or providing a very specific roadmap. In actuality, he explained, all training is communication, but it can be a hybrid, like a GPS.

Key to Success – Relevant… right level… right pace

The key to success for both communication and training to support change management is understanding the audience. Information and learning must be relevant, at the right level for the audience (for example, executives, mid-level managers, all other employees), and at the right pace.  Both require clear writing regarding objectives and expectations, grab and maintain interest, and must be organized in a logical way, for example, with a beginning, middle and end. (Note: In social media, the sequence can have more impact starting with the end.)

Creating a Culture Receptive to Communication and Training

Some companies overdo communication and training, which can create a situation where employees are bombarded and tune out. To keep receptivity and motivation high, the information has to be a high-value, delivered well, relevant and timely. Developing a positive track record and a positive reputation in using both communication and training effectively makes the difference.