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Four ways to create communications tools that last

Those of us who work in communications frequently support our organisation through major change. And for change managers, often the most challenging part of delivering change is what happens after the project has finished.  We need to find ways of embedding the new processes or behaviours and making them stick.

This calls for communications tools that last, are repeatable and sustainable, and have a life beyond the project.

During business change, you’re asking colleagues to change the way they work. They’ll need reliable information, clear motivation and moreover, a shared story that connects any current disruptions to how things will be in the future.

It’s a time to invest in ‘sustainable communication tools’ – these are tools that come to life the more they’re used. For example, an online portal sustained by its own user community, or a visual identity that brings impact and character wherever it’s used. A colleague of mine calls them ‘Future-proof tools’.

Done right, these brilliant concepts can pay for themselves quickly. They’ll inspire people to share content and contribute their own; they can create a stronger sense of a collective journey to a common goal.

Based on our extensive client experience, here are four things to focus on to create effective, long-term communications tools:

1. Culture fit. Devise a tool that suits how people interact now

It’s a common mistake to introduce a platform, like an enterprise social network, that’s at odds with an existing culture. Change teams may hope that people will somehow change their ways when they see it. However culture is, by nature, hard to adjust and successful programmes will work within their audience’s current preferences. There’s room to adjust engagement methods later if people start to become more adventurous.  Also, tools cannot be just left to manage themselves.  You will need to maintain them regularly by prompting people for content, asking questions and making suggestions.  While this can be time consuming to begin with – it will become easier over time, if successful.

2. Usability. Strip back and simplify

It can make sense to offer just a little information, if it means the bigger picture is easier to understand.  We’ve been working with a pharma company who found that complex new role descriptions were getting in the way of business change. People were distracted by the terminology and said they switched off when they received emails about it. The client took a fresh stakeholder management approach using an online campaign to simplify who does what. A team member said: “These people are scientists, inquisitiveness is part of workplace culture. Start with something simple and they’ll ask the right questions as and when they need to”.  So if you’ve developed a campaign that needs to run, keep things simple.  People like ‘simple’.  They are faced with complicated jargon every day so would welcome any effort made to make things easier for them to understand and act on.

3. Identity. Give the programme some character

A great identifier can increase the sense of a shared journey for everyone going through change. It could be a name, image or any visual that works with the organisation’s brand. We’d call it a communications tool because it does an important job in connecting activities together. For example, an oil and gas client won awards for its use of a three day change event to support major change. A strong programme identity ran through diverse activities, highlighting the fact that everything’s connected.

4. Involvement. People will only carry ‘their’ communications tool

Regardless of format, a communications tool will grow because people want it to. The more relevant it feels to individuals, the more they’ll invest. For example, companies often appoint ‘change champions’ but unless these individuals feel in control they’ll struggle to truly ‘champion’ change. Recognising this, a client created a guidance document for its new change champions. It provided key facts and pointers. Champions could talk about change in their own words, but with confidence supported by the right facts.

Read our blog for ideas on how to ensure people are onboard for your change journey

 

Overall, the true test of a sustainable communications tool is whether it connects people to the same purpose, and has a life after the project closes.  We like to pop back to clients to see how they are getting on with the sustainable tools left behind.  Given the right support and guidance, we are often surprised at how well they are working.

Good practice reminders for writing your communications strategy

Come on, be honest, how many times have you googled ‘How to write a communications strategy’?  I admit I have done so in the past, more than once.

Looking back, it’s understandable: your communications strategy represents an expedition. It maps what you want, how you plan to get it and all that might affect the journey. The strategy covers everything and yet to be useful, it must be utterly concise.

So to reduce people’s future googling, here are five things to consider when writing a strategy for communications to support people change.

1. Explore like a journalist

Any successful communications strategy will have people at its heart. You need to understand your audience: their environment and attitudes. A formal approach will include a full situation analysis. At a pinch, gather statistical and anecdotal evidence to understand your client organisation, its history, culture and the people.

Clearly, the more you know about the population you seek to change, the more accurately you can set your strategic objectives and meet them.

2. Your communications strategy should tie your goal to corporate objectives

Your strategy won’t be supported by business leadership unless it’s linked to what the organisation is trying to do. Make this connection obvious when you define the strategy’s purpose. For example, “This is a strategy to have people adopt automated HR by 2018, in order to meet our ops efficiency vision.”

And if you can do this using an engaging visual diagram, then even better.

3. Know exactly what you want people to do differently

Clarify what you want people to think, feel and do as a result of the change, and keep checking the strategic activities against that. Too often, things drift from these goals, especially when working with limited resources.

For example, an oil and gas client wanted to get better cohesion from one of their fastest growing business units. The strategy included an approach to run project meetings more effectively. They wanted people to stay focused on milestones. However the individuals involved traditionally used their face to face meetings for getting issues off their chest. It became obvious that for behavioural change, the client would need to either create additional opportunities to vent, or extend the standard meeting agenda to include it!

4. Build messaging around audience types to support your communications strategy

Develop a tight message framework around audience segments. People find it much easier to keep sight of their plans when they can picture the broad groups they’re aiming at.

For manageability, we’d recommend consolidating to five segments or fewer and creating generalised ‘personas’ to help bring these audience types to life. For example, imagine Trevor, the warehouse manager, who acts on instinct and no longer trusts automated systems (because he’s seen enough come and go). How will he respond to a request to join online training for a new warehouse management system? Again, your strategy is at its most reliable when it’s designed closely around people and their attitudes.

5. Measure and be nimble

More than just tracking progress, measurement is about being ready to respond to performance indicators. That way, you can show audiences that you’re listening as well as taking action to keep the strategy on track.

This means including qualitative feedback along with your metrics. For instance, set up a monthly panel to get ‘word on the street’ feedback as you go.

Then make sure that there is enough flexibility to answer this feedback with alternative activities. This gives room for a level of two way interaction with audiences, which keeps communications and change activities feeling fresh.

With these broad points in mind, it should be easier to draft a communications strategy that is focused enough to resonate with audiences, but avoids getting stuck in the detail. Remember, your strategy should engage your audience and resonate personally to increase the success of change adoption.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this outline – is there a sixth point we should cover though? Let us know in the comments below.

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

Four ways to create communications tools that last

Those of us who work in communications frequently support our organisation through major change. And for change managers, often the most challenging part of delivering change is what happens after the project has finished.  We need to find ways of embedding the new processes or behaviours and making them stick.

This calls for communications tools that last, are repeatable and sustainable, and have a life beyond the project.

During business change, you’re asking colleagues to change the way they work. They’ll need reliable information, clear motivation and moreover, a shared story that connects any current disruptions to how things will be in the future.

It’s a time to invest in ‘sustainable communication tools’ – these are tools that come to life the more they’re used. For example, an online portal sustained by its own user community, or a visual identity that brings impact and character wherever it’s used. A colleague of mine calls them ‘Future-proof tools’.

Done right, these brilliant concepts can pay for themselves quickly. They’ll inspire people to share content and contribute their own; they can create a stronger sense of a collective journey to a common goal.

Based on our extensive client experience, here are four things to focus on to create effective, long-term communications tools:

1. Culture fit. Devise a tool that suits how people interact now

It’s a common mistake to introduce a platform, like an enterprise social network, that’s at odds with an existing culture. Change teams may hope that people will somehow change their ways when they see it. However culture is, by nature, hard to adjust and successful programmes will work within their audience’s current preferences. There’s room to adjust engagement methods later if people start to become more adventurous.  Also, tools cannot be just left to manage themselves.  You will need to maintain them regularly by prompting people for content, asking questions and making suggestions.  While this can be time consuming to begin with – it will become easier over time, if successful.

2. Usability. Strip back and simplify

It can make sense to offer just a little information, if it means the bigger picture is easier to understand.  We’ve been working with a pharma company who found that complex new role descriptions were getting in the way of business change. People were distracted by the terminology and said they switched off when they received emails about it. The client took a fresh stakeholder management approach using an online campaign to simplify who does what. A team member said: “These people are scientists, inquisitiveness is part of workplace culture. Start with something simple and they’ll ask the right questions as and when they need to”.  So if you’ve developed a campaign that needs to run, keep things simple.  People like ‘simple’.  They are faced with complicated jargon every day so would welcome any effort made to make things easier for them to understand and act on.

3. Identity. Give the programme some character

A great identifier can increase the sense of a shared journey for everyone going through change. It could be a name, image or any visual that works with the organisation’s brand. We’d call it a communications tool because it does an important job in connecting activities together. For example, an oil and gas client won awards for its use of a three day change event to support major change. A strong programme identity ran through diverse activities, highlighting the fact that everything’s connected.

4. Involvement. People will only carry ‘their’ communications tool

Regardless of format, a communications tool will grow because people want it to. The more relevant it feels to individuals, the more they’ll invest. For example, companies often appoint ‘change champions’ but unless these individuals feel in control they’ll struggle to truly ‘champion’ change. Recognising this, a client created a guidance document for its new change champions. It provided key facts and pointers. Champions could talk about change in their own words, but with confidence supported by the right facts.

Read our blog for ideas on how to ensure people are onboard for your change journey

 

Overall, the true test of a sustainable communications tool is whether it connects people to the same purpose, and has a life after the project closes.  We like to pop back to clients to see how they are getting on with the sustainable tools left behind.  Given the right support and guidance, we are often surprised at how well they are working.

Good practice reminders for writing your communications strategy

Come on, be honest, how many times have you googled ‘How to write a communications strategy’?  I admit I have done so in the past, more than once.

Looking back, it’s understandable: your communications strategy represents an expedition. It maps what you want, how you plan to get it and all that might affect the journey. The strategy covers everything and yet to be useful, it must be utterly concise.

So to reduce people’s future googling, here are five things to consider when writing a strategy for communications to support people change.

1. Explore like a journalist

Any successful communications strategy will have people at its heart. You need to understand your audience: their environment and attitudes. A formal approach will include a full situation analysis. At a pinch, gather statistical and anecdotal evidence to understand your client organisation, its history, culture and the people.

Clearly, the more you know about the population you seek to change, the more accurately you can set your strategic objectives and meet them.

2. Your communications strategy should tie your goal to corporate objectives

Your strategy won’t be supported by business leadership unless it’s linked to what the organisation is trying to do. Make this connection obvious when you define the strategy’s purpose. For example, “This is a strategy to have people adopt automated HR by 2018, in order to meet our ops efficiency vision.”

And if you can do this using an engaging visual diagram, then even better.

3. Know exactly what you want people to do differently

Clarify what you want people to think, feel and do as a result of the change, and keep checking the strategic activities against that. Too often, things drift from these goals, especially when working with limited resources.

For example, an oil and gas client wanted to get better cohesion from one of their fastest growing business units. The strategy included an approach to run project meetings more effectively. They wanted people to stay focused on milestones. However the individuals involved traditionally used their face to face meetings for getting issues off their chest. It became obvious that for behavioural change, the client would need to either create additional opportunities to vent, or extend the standard meeting agenda to include it!

4. Build messaging around audience types to support your communications strategy

Develop a tight message framework around audience segments. People find it much easier to keep sight of their plans when they can picture the broad groups they’re aiming at.

For manageability, we’d recommend consolidating to five segments or fewer and creating generalised ‘personas’ to help bring these audience types to life. For example, imagine Trevor, the warehouse manager, who acts on instinct and no longer trusts automated systems (because he’s seen enough come and go). How will he respond to a request to join online training for a new warehouse management system? Again, your strategy is at its most reliable when it’s designed closely around people and their attitudes.

5. Measure and be nimble

More than just tracking progress, measurement is about being ready to respond to performance indicators. That way, you can show audiences that you’re listening as well as taking action to keep the strategy on track.

This means including qualitative feedback along with your metrics. For instance, set up a monthly panel to get ‘word on the street’ feedback as you go.

Then make sure that there is enough flexibility to answer this feedback with alternative activities. This gives room for a level of two way interaction with audiences, which keeps communications and change activities feeling fresh.

With these broad points in mind, it should be easier to draft a communications strategy that is focused enough to resonate with audiences, but avoids getting stuck in the detail. Remember, your strategy should engage your audience and resonate personally to increase the success of change adoption.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this outline – is there a sixth point we should cover though? Let us know in the comments below.

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.

Employee engagement tips for business change

Effective employee engagement within a project or programme of change is vital in making business change stick.

When developing an employee engagement strategy for a programme you could consider the following:

Stakeholder Analysis – what are people’s communications needs, how will the change impact each group?  And how can you keep them informed and supportive of your employee engagement programme?

Communications channels – What channels are available to encourage genuine two way feedback?  And what new ones can be introduced?

Learning and training – if there is learning and training to be delivered as part of the programme how do we make sure it is collaborative and adapts to the needs and continuous feedback of users?

Acting on feedback – Asking the right questions is only part of this; if you don’t start a conversation with the results, you won’t engage your audience.  Maintaining the conversation and interest is vital to achieving sustainable results.

So how can we interact powerfully and maintain employee engagement?

Leadership during business change needs to be active and involved in talking to people. Many project sponsors aren’t especially confident in walking the floor and talking to people. And if they’re not, then encouraging a presence online or at meetings is an alternative.

Forums, focus groups and workshops all give real opportunity for conversation – they are especially useful if employees are in one place. A community hub allows members of different teams to meet allows for the sharing and development of ideas and project and business objectives.

But what happens after the meetings?  A network of ‘change agents’ can keep the information flowing and gather continuous feedback.

Remote locations might not always be served well by physical meetings but an online Q&A with leadership and HR can serve to unite employees across different geographies.

Culture

Open and honest employee engagement needs the right company culture to support it. Different companies have various levels of openness. But employee engagement itself, although facilitated by a culture of openness, has the ability to produce it as well.

We worked with the head of a large health organisation and experienced how the closed culture stopped people from asking questions. We listened to people and submitted questions on their behalf anonymously and gradually people became more open and asked more themselves because it became clear it was safe to do so.

Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, but you can plant seeds that will grow over time.  Creating an open and safe culture in which people can ask questions is certainly beneficial but responding to and acting on that feedback achieves so much more.

 

Connect with Tom on LinkedIn

Common presentation mistakes

Giving a presentation to your client can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences a consultant can go through. It’s pretty to avoid some common blunders.

There are plenty of tips out there suggesting what you should and shouldn’t do with PowerPoint or Prezi so I’m not going to replicate any of that.  Also, I won’t insult you by saying ‘do your homework’.  That’s a given – knowing your subject matter inside out is generally essential.  However, here are my top 5 things to avoid:

  • Using someone else’s material – responding to a query by saying ‘sorry, these aren’t my slides’, doesn’t look good.  You should always present your own information and be prepared to defend it.
  • Not knowing your audience – avoid any surprises by finding out who is going to be at the meeting. This will help you get the right level of information in your presentation.
  • Over-reliance on your slides – your content should be there to support you, not the other way around.  You want people to listen to you and not be distracted by the content on your slides.
  • Just reading your content – non-verbal communication is extremely powerful and should be used to full effect.  A strong and positive posture, eye contact and verbal delivery build credibility and add weight to your opinions.
  • Lecturing –  you’re probably an expert at what you do.  However, it’s important not to come across as if you know everything.  If your colleague wants to interrupt, or ask a question, let them.  Make it a discussion, and you’ll both come out of the meeting feeling better.

Finally, and probably most difficult if you’re nervous, try smiling.  People want to hear from you, so try not to look like it’s an ordeal.

Have you got any presentation tips or things to avoid?

Why is measuring internal communications often overlooked?

The value of measuring internal communications can’t be understated, particularly in times of change. So why the reluctance?

Many people feel they’ve been engaged to create a strategy and deliver it, and then that’s it.  Some may feel a slight uneasiness when approaching the measurement of their plan as it may uncover results they don’t want to see. Others may not see the value in it, or just plain forget!

Why is it important?

Useful measurement techniques including staff surveys, can track shifts in employee attitudes and behaviour which, in turn, can help determine strategy and improve future communication and change management. Effective communication can make employees feel secure and informed, resulting in higher satisfaction scores and levels of employee engagement.

Satisfied employees generate better customer relations and service, leading to higher profits.

internal communications measurement

In project management, measuring employee engagement with communications is vital to make sure that communications are supporting the achievement of the business objectives underpinning the project or programme.

The messages have to stick, to support the long terms behaviour change needed, so measuring understanding and the effectiveness of communications is vital.

Common hurdles  

Measurement is often seen as an afterthought, or occurs following a specific challenge around how well you are doing your job.

If it’s the latter, then it could mean a lengthy, sometime expensive, task which takes you away from doing what you’re supposed to be.

But it needn’t be like this.  Being able to measure and evaluate is more of a mind-set. If we are able to consider ‘is what I’m doing worthwhile?’ or ‘how can I make this better?’ for everything we do, then it can be ingrained into how we work.

Some communications channels are relatively easy to measure such as websites, or newsletters, but for others it may be time to get a little creative.

For instance, if you’ve organised a team briefing or presentation, don’t hand out feedback forms at the end as they will invariably not get filled out.  Try emailing just one question out to all attendees, such as ‘On a scale of one to ten, how informed do you feel about…?’ or ‘On a scale of one to ten, how committed are you to…’  All the attendees will need to do is to respond with one number.  Surely everyone has time to do that.

If the value of what you’re doing can’t be measured then it’s worth thinking of another way of doing it.

So what are my tips?

  • Avoid survey fatigue– annual surveys have their place, but regular pulse and temperature checks can easily annoy your audience, particularly if nothing is done as a result of the feedback received.
  • Talk to people– anecdotal feedback can be undervalued, but often provides great insight.
  • Make the time – don’t see it as ‘something extra’; plan some proper time to analyse your data and draw conclusions.
  • Say thank you – respond to those who’ve taken the time to tell you their views.  You don’t want them thinking that their feedback has disappeared down some black hole never to be found again.
  • Take action – do something with it; and tell your audience what you’ve done.  They’ll be more likely to give it again in the future.

Effective measurement can bring enormous value to internal communicators if done well.

Let me know what you think, and good luck.

 

Further resources:

Downloadable internal communications channel guide

Are your people ready for change? A quick online change readiness assessment with tailored recommendations

Getting the message across during change

You’re trying to explain what change management is.  The person you’re talking to doesn’t get it.  They question why companies don’t simply just get on with business change.  If only it were that simple!

Change management is all about helping people adapt to business change, to minimise resistance and make sure the project delivers what it was designed to back to the business.

Often the people factor gets ignored and resistance means people don’t drive the change forward. Sometimes they may not have all of the vital facts and have no opportunity to get involved and have their say. To engage people and support them in adopting and accelerating the change, you need to communicate and engage with people. Here are some tips for getting the message across.

Connect with your audience

If you’re helping design the future for organisation, you have to put yourself in their shoes.  While the change might be driven by necessity, you’ll need to make the future vision enticing enough for people to want to be a part of.  Therefore, you need to build relationships throughout the organisations, get to understand the culture and the history (which might mean buying a few coffees!)

Repetition and repetition

Once the future vision is defined to you need to stay true it – and it cannot be deviated from.  You will find yourself repeating it over and over again, until it sinks again.  Just remember what are we trying to change, why are we changing and how different will it be?  Repeating yourself doesn’t mean you are going crazy – but if people hear your vision often enough they won’t to need to ask and they’ll begin to believe.

Nice to meet you, again

You’ll have multiple stakeholders to manage – those you need something from, and those who’ll need something from you.  It’s critical that you are able to manage all of these credibly.  Quite often, the change manager will be the ‘go-to’ person if a sponsor wants to get something done, so you’ll need to build a wide network of support and influence.  So dust off that stakeholder management manual.

Anticipate the resistance

There will inevitably be some resistance to what you are trying to do.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise.  You need to decide to press ahead regardless or do something about.  You might find some food for thought here: https://www.afiniti.co.uk/2014/10/31/dealing-resistance-to-change-5-things-work/

Involve people all the way

It doesn’t matter if your project is about changing processes, technology or operating model, the common denominator is that there are people at the end of the change.  And they need to buy into and support whatever it is you are doing.  Neglecting them will increase the risk of your project failing.  Engaging with and involving them will help them want to come along on your journey.

I hope this helps with communicating change.  If you’d like to share any of your own thoughts, please get in touch.

Tom