What’s that old saying – “the only constant is change?” While that’s always been the case, there’s more truth to it now than ever before. Companies are being forced to evolve their operating models and procedures, their business strategies and sometimes even their cultures to survive. Communications plays a critical role in helping employees better understand those changes, including the reasons, the benefits and the impacts to them and their role. Strategic communications can and should do more than simply share information though – it also can drive engagement and adoption.
To effectively drive change, consider the following:
- Align with the mission, brand and leadership vision and direction. Make sure employees understand how the change is aligned with and supports the mission, vision and brand of the organization (and if those are part of what’s changing, make sure to clearly articulate where the organization is, where it wants to be and how this evolution will help the company get there). Employees need to understand the why behind the change, and know the role they play in bringing the change – and the overall vision – to life.
- Focus on behavior change. If people don’t have a clear understanding of what they should start/stop/continue, it’s just noise. Provide clear, concrete examples of how behaviors need to change to help the organization get to its desired state, and provide the appropriate training.
- Leverage logic, emotion and evidence. Strong messaging should include all three, as different people respond to different appeals.
- Subsegment audiences. People react differently to change. There will be employees who are excited and want to jump in headfirst. There also will be employees who are extremely resistant to change, and a group somewhere in the middle. Understand the various subsets within your organization and tailor your approach accordingly.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Develop a steady cadence of communications to maintain momentum. Change does not happen overnight, and people need to hear messages multiple times before they sink in.
- Use a multi-channel approach. People learn and absorb information in different ways. Use a combination of short- and long-form, verbal, visual and written communications. And, include experiential components, including trainings, workshops, engagement activities and more.
- Identify multiple messengers and “change champions.” While support and buy-in at the top is important, major organizational change requires the active engagement of multiple messengers and advocates. Consider creating a group of “change champions” or ambassadors – individuals of all levels and tenures who are influential change agents. Provide them with the training and resources they need to help engage others in a positive manner.
- Create a feedback loop and adjust your plans accordingly. Change is a marathon, not a sprint. Put mechanisms in place to monitor employee sentiment and overall engagement and be willing to adjust your communications as needed.
How is your business evolving? If you are thinking about or in the midst of an organizational change, our Corporate Advisory Group would love to learn more.