What’s the biggest thing holding your employees back from high levels of productivity and engagement? Change.
Change management is the new normal for companies around the globe. Change management teams spend a lot of time figuring out how to implement the “soft side” of organizational changes by going over the goals and objectives, strategy, and tactics, and making basic changes to roles and processes. However, for some organizations it’s still difficult for even the simplest change initiative to be successful; 70 percent of change programs fail to reach their stated goals.
Having an excellent internal communications team can be the answer to avoiding that failure as the team works to better integrate, retain, and inspire employees during times of change.
Why is internal communications at the center of all change management?
The role of communications teams is particularly crucial during digital transformation, which requires an orderly adoption process of new technology, followed by a sustained plan for support so that workers can successfully leverage new tools as part of their daily routines.
Longstanding research has shown that communication during organizational change is a make-or-break factor of the success or failure of a new initiative. Internal communicators need to inform the entire organization of new strategies while also maintaining consistent messaging.
NOTE: Because the composition of the workforce has shifted as more teams are remote and deskless, communicating with all employees has also become a more complicated endeavor.
Learn more about virtual teams and what you can do to communicate more effectively with them.
Reasons internal communications is at the center of change management
The following seven reasons highlight why internal communications is crucial for change management.
7 reasons internal communications is at the center of change management
Change must be managed professionally and effectively
Strong company culture and morale can give comfort and reassurance
Companies must have a dedicated system for reliable workplace communication
Companies need an up-to-date digital communications toolkit
Communication strategies must be integrated and optimized for IT
Communications campaigns should be targeted and personalized
Results must be tracked, measured, and leveraged
1. Change must be managed professionally and effectively
In order to manage change in this way, it’s important to be transparent with all employees.
If you want to get workers on board with change, be sure to clearly explain how those changes will affect their timeline, routines, and goals. Anyone in charge of communications must reach all workers with information that will provide clarity and direction to facilitate a seamless transition.
Even with transparency comes anxiety. Anticipating this nervous energy is simply another part of effectively managing the change your company is experiencing. Worries often manifest themselves into questions, many of which result along these lines:
Why is change necessary?
How does this strategy differ from the status quo?
Why do we need this change now?
How are we measuring the success of our new strategy?
Prepare answers to these common questions, along with others that you and your team anticipate. Clear communication takes the sting out of organizational change. By providing clarity during a transition, employees will feel more secure and confident in their ability to adopt a new direction. And that will ultimately make your change initiative successful.
2. Strong company culture and morale can give comfort and reassurance
During the change management process, one of two things may happen. First, your company culture will remain strong and team members will feel highly invested and responsive to proposed adjustments. Second, change can expose cracks and weaknesses in your company culture.
Regardless, it’s best to have professional internal communicators at the helm. Maintaining an engaged workforce is key to creating a strong company culture that promotes learning, change, and growth.
Maintaining a healthy sense of morale can already be complicated when employees work in one place. Managing that morale when employees work remotely can become even more difficult. Professional internal communicators can enable remote team members with the right tools to reach reach all employees, regardless of whether they are in office or not.
Keeping workers aligned with organizational strategies is vital to making them feel connected and engaged. Engaged employees will positively embrace transformations and change because they’ll have a greater stake in the success of the company.
3. Companies must have a dedicated system for reliable workplace communication
Contemporary communication in the workplace is far more fragmented than in generations past, when most work was accomplished via email and telephone. Workers today rely on email, voicemail, apps and notifications, online chat, social media, and mobile devices to help them stay connected to the company. Some companies also employ intranet so that employees can access important documents, reports, research, and other critical materials on demand, at any time.
Internal communicators understand that workplace communication happens across multiple channels, in various media forms, at all times. They also understand how to properly tailor communications so employees are highly likely to pay attention to company messages. They’re savvy about which technology tools allow them to cater to employee communication preferences: some employees will prefer to receive an email while others may prefer push notifications from a company app.
Regardless of which communications channel you might choose, having a central platform where workers can receive official organizational messages is the most effective and efficient way to keep employees informed. It also makes it easier for internal communications teams to update and refresh documents easily, so the most up-to-date information is always readily available.
4. Companies need an up-to-date digital communications toolkit
Updating your digital communications toolkit can eliminate some of the major obstacles that often prevent successful internal communication. As technology advances, companies typically roll out and integrate a number of new tools, which means older tools continually become outdated or obsolete.
A good communications professional will take time to audit such tools routinely to clear out the clutter, eliminate what’s no longer serving the organization, make updates where necessary, and identify gaps where new tools could offer better and improved support for all areas of the company.
Here are three steps you can take to assess and improve your digital strategy:
Consolidate your digital communications resources. You need to integrate your knowledge base in a single place, including all critical applications employees use daily.
Collaborate across teams. To improve customer service and technical issues, make sure IT is empowered to resolve tickets faster.
Publish important messages. Keep all IT documents in one place so they’re up-to-date and accessible.
5. Communication strategies must be integrated and optimized for IT
Any good internal communications professional knows how important it is to work well with IT professionals in your organization (as well as external IT consultants). IT has its own particular challenges, needs, and preferences when it comes to communicating with employees; and IT teams often have trouble keeping up with multiple communication channels. Companies need a strategy to communicate IT-related changes so that employees can readily understand how to use new tools, stay productive, and become invested in participating in change initiatives.
Integrating channels can be key to a successful IT-related change initiative. Understanding how to best leverage those channels, including email, enterprise social networks, sales tools, and intranet, can optimize your communications overall. Having an integrated system makes it easier to reach all employees, even deskless and frontline workers. It also makes executing communications faster and more efficient. IT teams will be more cost effective and innovative by integrating their communications into a single platform.
6. Communications campaigns should be targeted and personalized
One of the key aspects of good communications is targeting your messaging to the right groups and individuals within the company. Not all messaging is appropriate or relevant for all employees. Internal communications professionals understand that different teams perform different functions, and thus require different information during times of organizational change. Internal communicators can improve the effectiveness of their campaigns by targeting different employee segments with information relevant to their department and needs.
The issue of personalization is just as crucial to carry off successful communications campaigns. Today, people are used to high levels of personal engagement as consumers — and they expect the same level of personalization at work. In this way, companies that personalize their communications helps workers feel engaged and connected to their organization.
Internal communicators will understand how to develop the right messages that address the needs and preferences of each employee and employee group, develop employee personas (much as marketers do for prospects and customers) to better cultivate messages that resonate, launch pilot and test programs to garner feedback and refine messaging, and review results to continually improve personalization efforts. This level of effort to personalize communications will yield greater results from your efforts.
7. Results must be tracked, measured, and leveraged
After you craft a strategy and launch a communications campaign, you must track and measure your results. Today’s most successful companies are data savvy. This doesn’t mean internal communicators need to be data scientists or analysts; but they do need to embrace data as a tool for improving communications.
Tracking and measuring your results will help you understand what is working and where you need to change, update, or improve your communication efforts. When you consider the number of channels a company can use to engage its entire workforce, you can see how quickly overwhelming it might be to track data on your communications efforts. In this regard, a workforce communications platform can be an invaluable tool to help you gather quantitative data: you can see how many views your videos get, for example, or how many employees actually open and read the emails you send.
No matter what kind of tools you currently have to mine and analyze your communications data, here are some questions you can ask to measure your results.
How well are your changes being adopted?
What kind of support and tools did different teams need to facilitate a seamless transition?
Which channel was most effective in informing team members of your changes?
How well did employees respond to your communications?
Constant change is necessary to improve business and stay competitive. Today, the rapid evolution of technology tools means companies are asking employees to process and manage a lot of change, at a swift pace.
Communication is key to making change initiatives a success. While it is often difficult to manage a new strategy and lead an organization, having good internal communications is critical to successfully implementing a change. Here is a recap of why internal communications is at the center of all change management.
When beginning a major organizational change, it is crucial to have all employees and stakeholders on the same page. This comes down to having the right technology in place to effectively communicate what the change will be, why the change is necessary, and the impact both within and outside of the organization.
Informative and supportive communication is key to keeping an entire organization aligned and ready for a change.
A strong company culture can encourage workers to readily accept change and be excited for it.
Altering your metrics to track your new strategy is vital to measuring its success.
To make sure you're on top of everything mentioned above, find the highest-rated internal communications software to ensure quality interactions among your organization.
Charong leads content strategy at SocialChorus. After film experiments, gallery shows, and a novel, she took the plunge into content marketing for tech startups. When Charong is not weaving narratives, she curates a small zoo that her two children have somehow managed to assemble.