discuss communication in the change process

The reactions to organizational change highlighted previously—ownership, resistance, and uncertainty—all point to the importance of communication in the organizational change process. For those involved in planned organizational change, there are a great many choices that must be made about communication during the change process. For example, Timmerman (2003) points out that a variety of communication media can be used when communicating with employees and people outside the organization during planned organizational change. How much communication should take place in face-to-face meetings? How much can be accomplished through written directives or the Internet? These are choices that must be made. Similarly, change agents must make decisions about whom to communicate with during the change process. Lewis, Richardson, and Hamel (2003) found that change agents communicate first and most frequently with individuals inside or close to the organization.

In considering ways of communicating with employees, some research has considered specific strategies that management can use during the implementation process. Clampitt, DeKoch, and Cashman (2000) have categorized these top-down communication strategies, which are summarized in Table 10.2. Clampitt et al. (2000) believe that the Underscore and Explore strategy is most effective and that the Spray and Pray and Withhold and Uphold strategies are least effective. The two remaining strategies were seen as moderately effective. In essence, these authors argue for a strategy of involving employees in the change process in appropriate areas by providing relevant information. Recent interviews with change implementers at a variety of organizations found, however, that most change agents favored a strategy in which participation was “restricted” or just used in an “advisory” capacity ( Lewis & Russ, 2012). Other research has considered the issue of uncertainty highlighted above in exploring possible communication strategies. Though early research ( Miller & Monge, 1985) suggested that, for uncertain employees, even negative information about a change is seen as preferable to no information, more recent scholarship has found that previewing the potential pain and stress associated with change might do little to influence beliefs about the favorability of the change or perceptions of the credibility of change implementers ( Lewis, Laster & Kulkarni, 2013).

Managerial Strategies for Communicating about Change



Spray and Pray

Management showers employees with all kinds of information in the hope that employees will be able to sort out significant and insignificant information.

Tell and Sell

Management selects a limited set of messages regarding core organizational issues. Management “tells” employees about these issues and then “sells” employees on the wisdom of the chosen approach.

Underscore and Explore

Management focuses on fundamental issues related to change success and allows employees the creative freedom to explore various possibilities.

Identify and Reply

Management listens to and identifies key concerns of employees and then responds to those issues as they are brought up.

Withhold and Uphold

Management withholds information as much as possible. When management is confronted with questions or rumors, they uphold the party line.

Question:In the text, Clampitt et al. (2000) give five managerial strategies for communicating about change (spray and pray, tell and sell, underscore and explore, identify and reply, and withhold and uphold). Which of these strategies was found to be most effective and which were found to be less effective? In your answer, be sure to define and provide examples of the various communication strategies. 200-250 word!

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