In the era of social transformation, where businesses must contend with constantly evolving trends and rapid evolutions of technology tools, change is the new normal.
Employees are constantly asked to process and manage a lot of change and at a swift pace because businesses have to adapt to thrive. What’s more, businesses require a strategy that leverages on the dynamics of the shifting social and economic climate.
One thing is clear: the top-down command-and-control corporate strategy and management is becoming a relic of the past. Gone are the days of vertically stratified management structures.
But what comes next?
Longstanding research shows that communication during organisational change is a make-or-break factor in the success or failure of a new initiative.
Well-managed internal communication that emphasises ethics, transparency, openness, listening, and upward communication is essential to successfully guide employees through the change journey.
So how exactly does this play out?
Keep your people informed; it builds awareness and support for the change. People don’t like to be kept in the dark about things that impact their lives. We like being in the know about the company we work for, the projects we’re working on, upcoming events, policy changes, headcount changes, etc.
Proper internal communication helps stakeholders understand what is changing, why and how it will affect them. It delivers timely, consistent information to key people in the organisation, preferably in a way that gets them involved and invested in the bigger picture and provides a mechanism to share feedback and ask questions. It gives people a voice.
Internal communication is often thought of as top-down messaging; a string of directives by leaders for the employees. But really, it’s a two-way street.
The lack of proper channels for communicating feedback, frustration and even praise makes people feel voiceless. Everyone wants to feel heard and that their opinions are valued.
This can be done by delegating messaging to representatives of each department in your company rather than depending solely on the HR department.
Internal communications help keep people calm in times of crisis Things don’t always go as planned or envisioned. Remember the chaos that ensued when Elon Musk bought Twitter?
Announcements of impending structural changes, particularly in the case of layoffs, being transparent about what is happening, who is affected, and what the change means for the organisation requires sensitivity. People will have questions and internal communications create a safe space for these difficult-to-have conversations.
Finally, good internal communication promotes learning events and leadership training programmes, shares customer feedback and media coverage, and provides opportunities for people to get more involved at work.
Giving your workers the freedom to promote events and programmes gives their job another satisfying dimension.
Whether you are changing technology, business practices, leadership, or a combination of any of these things, change management communication is essential to helping people move from where they are today to the desired “future state.”
Through an approach to change management that integrates the power of internal communications, it’s possible to unlock the power of productive and committed, value-focused employees in an age of social transformation.
Antinette is lead communication consultant at Commken Afrique.