In the Internal Comms Team IC audit survey – developed and refined over 15 years of doing audits - we ask people to select the topics and issues most important to them in terms of being kept informed and involved, from a list of nine options.
‘Planned changes and what they mean for me and my team’ is always in the top 3. We also ask them to rate their agreement with the statement ‘Changes are communicated effectively in this business.’ The percentage agreeing or strongly agreeing with this statement is typically around 40% or lower. Not a great result.
Why are organisations still getting this wrong when change is now a constant? Here’s my thoughts:
- Too much focus on the big-ticket transformational changes and not enough focus on effective communication of the smaller operational changes and their impact on the colleagues having to adopt or implement them.
- Impacted colleagues are not involved from the start. Recurring comments in our reviews are: ‘Involve as at the start of change, not the end’ and ‘Do it with us, not to us’
- Lack of dedicated internal communication resources supporting change or partnering change projects - multimillion pound programmes don’t realise their benefits because communications are not being professionally planned and delivered
- Trying to land too many planes at the same time. Most businesses I work with are implementing significant change. But people can only absorb so much of it alongside ‘business as usual’ so the messaging on some changes fails to land
- Lack of 2-way face to face (including virtually) comms on changes, especially with hybrid working now making this harder. What better way to ensure successful change implementation than involving impacted colleagues face to face throughout the change journey so they can ask questions, challenge assumptions and give feedback?
- Leaders of teams don’t deliver a regular cascade effectively where changes are a core topic for discussion. In our audit survey confirmation that the regular cascade is being delivered (where there is one) is typically only around 60%. Sometimes it’s down to the effectiveness or ease of use of the channel, sometimes it’s about leader commitment / ability.
Communicating change effectively has to be at the heart of any internal communications strategy. Getting it right is a must.