ICT team member Sophie is a double-award winning internal communications professional with almost ten years’ experience, previously named in the top 30 under 30 by the Institute of Internal Communication. Sophie is currently available for client assignments.
We have done some interesting internal communications reviews recently for clients like Financial Ombudsman Service, Kronos Inc. EMEA region and Innovation Group. We thought it’d be useful to share the top themes with you.
The dreaded intranet
While this is not ‘new’ it is still top of the charts for ‘improvement needed’. It feels like all businesses went out and got an intranet 10-15 years ago and they haven’t nurtured it, so it’s often now a jumbled list of poorly presented words and documents on an outdated platform which no-one can navigate! Would you leave your website unchanged for 10 years? Exactly! There’s no excuse for this: there are some fantastic options for social intranets around, including Interact, Unily and EasySharepoint. Don’t forget to resource it properly, though, otherwise the same thing could happen again…
Push / pull balance
Interestingly, we’ve gone from everyone wanting to ‘pull’ all their news and information, to employees feeling so confused about where to go to stay up to date that they now want it sent to them. I guess because everything is at our fingertips in our personal lives, people want that personalised experience at work and want news digested for them and easy to access. Don’t get me wrong, people still want to pull from an intranet but the need for a regular, snappy email digest of important news is a common theme in our reviews.
In our reviews we’re finding that people want constant conversations and connection with both the leadership team and their colleagues across the business – both face to face and online. Twice yearly ‘set piece’ employee events just don’t cut it anymore! We regularly talk to clients about ‘rhythm and drumbeat of communications’ and the importance of maintaining a dialogue across face to face and supporting channels.
What’s the story?
Employees want and need to feel part of something, understand the story and direction of the business and its identity, and for various reasons organisations don’t seem to be getting this right lately. I personally think this isn’t far enough up Exec teams’ priorities. Once discussed and agreed, the story should be told and reflected throughout your communications, making it relevant and engaging.
Managers as a channel
It’s still all too common for managers to be on the back foot when it comes to comms; from finding out news at the same time as teams, to not being part of a cascade process. It’s so important to engage your managers and equip them with segmented channels to engage their teams. They are the link from the senior team messages to the people and vice versa. And the vice versa bit is critical – communication is two-way of course….
When you think how important this is to get right, it’s amazing to us how many organisations struggle to get this right – whether it’s setting out a change journey for people or communicating some structural changes with people impact. Key to getting it right is having experienced, dedicated resources planning the communications. No point in spending millions on your transformation if you don’t communicate it well and the change then lands badly – or not at all! We think this is one of the key areas where internal comms teams can demonstrate their value to their organisation.
Do these themes sound familiar to you? Why not see how we can help you with an internal comms review. Find out more.
We’ve all heard horror stories of poorly managed change communications – our LinkedIn campaign reflects just some of the real-life examples that have been shared with us. The typical score for agreeing with the statement ‘Changes are communicated effectively’ in our internal communications review surveys is around 30%.
Change is a fact of life for most organisations and effective change communication is one of the skills our clients often approach us for. Whether it’s an office move, relocation, redundancies or business acquisition, major change is often difficult. We take pride in supporting clients to communicate change effectively and with integrity and believe there are a few things you can do to improve the experience for your employees and your organisation. Here are our top 5…..
1. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes
Showing respect doesn’t need to be onerous and is vital to your reputation as a good employer. It’s not just about those leaving or moving, but those left behind. At every step of the project, take a moment to reflect: how will it feel to employees? Good principles include briefing people face to face and at a reasonable time of day. And don’t forget part-time colleagues and those on maternity leave, long term sick or secondment.
Now is a great time to brush up on the Change Curve, which recognises quite simply that employees will go through a range of emotions and need different types of communication at different times. If in doubt, keep it human, honest and adult to adult.
2. Agree your approach
There are a few ways to communicate change, but here at the Internal Comms Team we often recommend a cascade approach i.e. starting with senior leaders, then line managers and then employees. This enables your managers to play a key role as communicators and equips them to support their teams through the change. They can also help you to gauge emerging themes and colleague sentiment. If your line managers are also impacted, you may need to give them extra support in this role. Last but not least, communicate to the wider organisation – in our internal communications reviews employees often tell us that ‘secondary’ audiences are forgotten.
3. Develop good stakeholder relationships
You’ll need to work hand-in-hand with HR to understand how people are being impacted, what the process is and what support materials they will need. You may well also be relying on business leads for subject expertise so it pays to have great working relationships. While we’re on the topic, invest a little time in connecting with EAs and PAs too…they have the senior team’s ear and you may well be calling in favours closer to delivery date!
4. Prep leaders to own the message
If one leader explains there are cost cuts while another points to changing skills requirements, the message will very quickly unravel. Whatever your organisation’s reasons for change, be clear, be consistent and ensure the leadership team are fully aligned behind the message. Finally, while it might feel like a great time to cancel all senior diary commitments and run for the hills, this is exactly the time to maintain good visibility and dialogue.
5. Plan, plan…and plan some more
At the outset, check your planned dates for communicating don’t clash with other activity. There’s nothing worse than announcing redundancies hot on the heels of a Values campaign. For the announcements themselves, you’ll need designated owners for every element of the plan, from setting up room bookings to monitoring comments on your intranet/enterprise social network. Have backup plans, too. What if there’s a leak in the press? What happens if that super important HR system crashes with all of your key materials? What if the briefing invitations don’t reach the intended people? How smoothly things run on the day will depend on the time you put in…the devil really is in the detail.
For change communications resource and advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us on on 0117 971 4423 / email our MD firstname.lastname@example.org