10 Oct Communicating in times of change
It’s about them, your employees
In times of organisational change, it is not about you the manager – it is about them, the employees.
When an organisation is going through change which often results in people losing their jobs, management almost seem to communicate based on Labour Act requirements and also, the ‘tick box’ factor – it’s the right thing to do.
It’s not about the CEO
Employees are getting a little tired of being huddled together to hear the CEO rabbit on about theory, inverted graphs and new and improved strategies. And long, long emails with some motivational stuff at the end. These CEO’s are showcasing themselves. They’re expected to know their stuff. When it comes to internal communications, it’s about the employees and not the CEO or Executive.
See employees as clients
When you communicate to the market, skilled communicators will have a clear understanding of what’s going through the minds of their target audience. Why then is the same attention not applied to internal communications in challenging or changing times?
It is not enough to understand the basic view that employees are “uncertain, worried” etc. That’s a bit like saying to Woolworths that consumers need “food, clothes” etc. What is really going through their minds that allows Woolworths to resonate with them?
Spend as much time preparing your internal communications strategy, content and channels as you would if you were introducing a new product to market. Regarding channels, just because they have a company email address, does not mean that they will read your “change” emails (especially if internal communications to date have been poor or sporadic). Think carefully about what channels you’ll be using and how you will use the channels.
Build in controls.
Make sure that your internal communications are controlled to ensure consistency. Think about what would happen if your company sent inconsistent messages to the market. To prevent this, Marketing has controls in place. And so it should be with internal communications.
- Having decided on your internal communications strategy and the tone, content, etc. that you want to convey, make sure that a skilled communicator checks all internal communications pieces for consistency, thoroughness and tone.
- Anticipate the questions which might be asked by employees and make sure that – where appropriate – all managers or supervisors answer in a consistent way (without sounding like parrots). As part of your internal communications plan, train and empower your managers to answer question with a set framework.
In challenging times of change, effective internal communications should be the key to unlocking the future for your company. Take it very, very seriously.