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Choosing communications for business change part 3

The first and second parts of this series were all about considered use of creativity and innovation and how to choose communications channels.

What stands above all of this, is the story of the business and its future, which can be told through creative communications and branding. To get the strategy right in the first place and build your overall story, you should consider the following statements.  If the answer is yes, to them all then you are good to go.  If not, then you might want to develop an action plan to tackle some of the issues highlighted. The impact of communications and engagement is being measured throughout to make sure efforts are correctly focused

  • There is a mechanism for employee feedback to be acted upon with clear lines of escalation
  • Individuals will understand how they play a part in the success of business change through the communications and engagement
  • People will understand how the change will impact them
  • People will understand how the change is instrumental in achieving one of the business’s primary strategic goals
  • The business benefits for the change have been clearly articulated
  • The programme has been given credibility and a certain uniqueness through design, branding and messaging.
  • There is a clear statement to illustrate how the company will look after the change has been implemented that runs throughout communications
  • Departments like HR and other teams, are informed and aligned with your key messaging and communications plan, and have had a chance for input
  • Senior leaders understand the messages and their contribution to the communications strategy

It’s surprising, but measurement and this kind of change readiness assessment doesn’t always happen at the start and then continue throughout a programme. It gets forgotten and that means that communications may not engage, involve and inspire people to back the change and take it forward.

Communications for business change Part one

Choosing communications for business change part 3

The first and second parts of this series were all about considered use of creativity and innovation and how to choose communications channels.

What stands above all of this, is the story of the business and its future, which can be told through creative communications and branding. To get the strategy right in the first place and build your overall story, you should consider the following statements.  If the answer is yes, to them all then you are good to go.  If not, then you might want to develop an action plan to tackle some of the issues highlighted. The impact of communications and engagement is being measured throughout to make sure efforts are correctly focused

  • There is a mechanism for employee feedback to be acted upon with clear lines of escalation
  • Individuals will understand how they play a part in the success of business change through the communications and engagement
  • People will understand how the change will impact them
  • People will understand how the change is instrumental in achieving one of the business’s primary strategic goals
  • The business benefits for the change have been clearly articulated
  • The programme has been given credibility and a certain uniqueness through design, branding and messaging.
  • There is a clear statement to illustrate how the company will look after the change has been implemented that runs throughout communications
  • Departments like HR and other teams, are informed and aligned with your key messaging and communications plan, and have had a chance for input
  • Senior leaders understand the messages and their contribution to the communications strategy

It’s surprising, but measurement and this kind of change readiness assessment doesn’t always happen at the start and then continue throughout a programme. It gets forgotten and that means that communications may not engage, involve and inspire people to back the change and take it forward.

Communications for business change Part one

Choosing Communications for business change part 2

How do you pick the right channel and get the best result from your communications?

There a great many communications channels available to most organisations – all with their own pros and cons. However, it’s easy to make your decisions on some pretty general statements, but when it comes to change programmes, there’s more to consider.

The first consideration has to be ‘what are we trying to achieve?’

They key here is not to get lost in the detail.  Focus on what the outcomes are and create a clear vision of the future.  For example, if there is  new technology on the way which will have a significant  impact on the way people, then mapping out the technology landscape will allow people to understand the context of the change. This could take the form of a narrative, interview with a key programme sponsor, or a rich picture.  Whatever you can conjure up to help people understand, you have to find the best way of doing this.

Are people being given face to face time?

Innovation and new digital technology is great but when it comes to change: face to face, real life presence works. From Town Halls, to roadshows, site visits and team meetings, face to face elevates the change above the everyday whirl wind of work and often gives people a chance to speak their mind.

Is this multi-purpose?

Your programme may have its own visual identity or brand to help differentiate it.  This often means you’ll need  to work together well with the internal communications teams.  You’ll need to get them on-side and ensure you have met internal brand guidelines.  You’ll also want your work be sustainable.  This means creating a series of templates and guidelines that are easily accessible and mean that you work can be visually portrayed online, via a number of different mediums.

Is it appropriate right now?

You’ll need to ensure that your efforts consider where the business is at in terms of its performance, mood and reputation.  For instance, you shouldn’t be recommending spending big money on a promotional video or website if there is a cost cutting initiative in place.  For instance, you may  consider creative high engagement value channels like rich pictures – a drawing which bring to life a story of change as people in the room are involved in telling it. In times of opportunity where creative ideas are needed this is a very worthwhile channel. If however the business is facing serious challenges especially in the public eye, anything fun and creative might be seen as inappropriate.

Can people put their own stamp on it?

We know that people often like to be involved in change, so it’s critical that opportunities are made available.  If people feel like they have helped shape the future of their organisation, then they are more willing to be ensure it is a success and encourage their colleagues to do likewise.  . It’s a worthwhile idea running user focus groups to cover key elements of your programme or to build a communications working group that can help gather feedback and assess the mood across the organisation.  They can also help shape your communications output too.  For instance, if people can amend, add to and co-create a rich picture, this is when the real value starts for change communications. People will only take change forward if they feel they’ve been part of it from the start.

Is it new?

Every programme needs to stand out. Of course it’s helpful to use selected tried and tested communications channels as part of the mix. However, if you also choose a new channel dedicated to your programme, for example a newsletter or a podcast, everyone knows it’s about your programme and you won’t have to compete with other communications when you use it.

There’s so much to consider to communicate about your programme effectively, such as the channels, company culture and sustainability.

Part three will cover, the final aspect – creativity.  Your campaign needs to stand out from the crowd, but how? 

Further reading: Part 1 Choosing creative communications

 

Choosing communications for business change Part 1 of 3

In part one of this three part blog series on communications channels for communicating change – innovative channels and creative comms.

Wanting to inspire people with change? Use drawings!

I’m talking about the support of a professional visual scribe or illustrator here so no need to break out the Crayola after all these years. A visual scribe can help you unlock the richest portrayal of how and why things are changing, what people are thinking even.

Illustrations, and/or rich pictures, are a creative way to tell a story and capture people’s input.

Where it works well

At Afiniti, we’ve seen a client in the transport industry go through huge technology and process change; a complete overhaul which meant the way people worked would change forever.

How can you bring change like this to life?

Together we created illustrations which were an integral part of the branding for the programme.

But they didn’t ignore the history of the company and its heritage. Far from it, they told the story of the organisation and the changes it had been through, creating a sense of an ongoing journey.

This included an animation in which momentum was created and the story of the history and of the future was told. You could see the pride people had in being part of this story.

If illustrations and materials are static, some of the power is lost. People need to be totally involved in business change otherwise they’ll see it as something that is being done to them: cue resistance.

Putting a large template rich picture at local offices means people can edit and co create their own change by adding their thoughts and promises to it.

Supporting culture change

This editable template supports cultural change particularly well as people can contribute their own commitments to operating in a certain way. Setting their own goals in this way inspires a different level of ownership over behaviours and change.

A big gap between your big strategy and execution? Try scribing

A scribe can add enormous value to a workshop. Imagine senior management or leadership working together to sense check the strategy laid out in principle by the board. At some point these plans will have to be solidly executed. Managers and leadership must make sense of how the business will look in the future and how the strategy will translate to implementation.

What emerges is a picture of the current state and challenges – the strategy mapped out and the routes to success.

The strategy becomes clearer in the minds of managers and they have co-created an approach to take it forward through working with the facilitator and the scribe.

When you work in business change you know that if people purposefully contribute to the change it has a much better chance of being sustained. The more you involve people with change, in its design and implementation, the more they will be able to actively and positively take your business forward into the future.

Having everything on one page obviously can’t include all the nuts and bolts but it will remind everyone immediately of the key rationale for change – the why, and the how.

With illustrations, rich pictures, animation and real time scribing, you can bring your change story to life and meaningfully involve people – all essential stuff when you consider the maelstrom of working life and the attention a programme really needs to make a difference.

In part 2 will look at how to choose your comms channels strategically for your programme.