Virtually every goal within the Change Plan must be communicated to the stakeholders it affects – staff, clients, family members, and other agencies. Persuasive, clear communication maximizes the potential for positive response and empowers participants to become part of the change process.
External and internal communications must be built on and support the change plan for the successful implementation of the ATTOC intervention documented in the previous step. A good communication plan will keep communication focused, timely, and on target, preventing unwanted surprises (either for those affected or for persons involved in planning).
As for any plan, persons with key roles in communication should be specifically identified and the expectations of each should be clearly stated.
The agency website, newsletters, patient brochures, and other methods should be used to describe the initiative. Signage both inside and outside the campus is helpful.
Task 1. Identify clear messaging and the best communication channels to communicate with stakeholders.
Identify those who will be affected by changes in the agency (both internal and external) and the best communication channel(s) to reach them. Employees and others will be more willing to contribute their time and effort if they think and believe that addressing tobacco benefits all the staff, patients, and the program itself. Not only printed messages, but actions, will communicate whether or not the changes leaders announce in bulletins are true expectations executed with commitment and passion.
Task 2. Determine channels for feedback from patients and staff.
Provide a feedback loop so that you know how the changes are being received. In addition to encouraging people to participate in the implementation of the change, listen to what they have to say and consider whether you can make adjustments that will facilitate the change process for them and for others whose opinion they may represent.
Task 3. Communicate new policies and procedures.
As you communicate new policies and procedures, take care that you are not only using the right channel of communication for each group of stakeholders – e.g., staff, patients, family members, community members, and referral sources – but also that you are conveying to each a consistent message. No audience’s response should be taken for granted. Explain specifically how the new policies and procedures will affect each group. Provide support for difficult changes and publicize alternatives, where relevant. For example, if there will no longer be a smoking break, be sure that staff do not lose break time. Anticipate how people will react, the questions they are likely to raise, and the issues that may result. Be prepared with clear concise answers that will speak to the common obstacles that can be expected and address known concerns “up front.”