How to communicate change in your organisation

For most internal communicators, our daily work includes elements of change communication.

What do you think when you hear the word change? Does it fill you with a sense of dread, or do you enjoy it?

Change has a multitude of meanings for us as internal communicators and shows up in various forms.

Examples include a CEO exit plan, a new company strategy, hybrid working patterns, adapting channels or planning acquisition comms.

It can also include company rebranding, restructuring, IPO (Initial Public Offering) comms or overseeing a technology refresh or rollout e.g. a new digital workplace or intranet.

Whatever the situation and your length of IC experience, I’m certain you will be encountering change.

I’ve written about change numerous times over the past 13 years of writing this blog and love helping organisations navigate their way through it.

How good is your organisation at communicating change?

Do you get locked into a tactical cycle of being brought in at the last-minute or are you working as a trusted adviser, championing effective internal communication at every stage?

Below you’ll find some of my golden rules.

How to communicate change in your organisation:

  • Focus on your language. Define terms, explain what you mean and bear their impact in mind.
  • Watch your words. People are not resources or assets. They’re not headcount either.
  • Communicate for/with employees, not at/to them. Think two-way dialogue, not a broadcasted monologue. Less cascade and more conversations.
  • Listen, listen, listen. Check your assumptions and gauge sentiment.
  • Internal communication is too important to be left to one team or department, it is everyone’s responsibility. So is change.
  • Kindness, ethics, empathy and commitment are super powers. Use them wisely and use them well. Most of all, use them.
  • What happens inside is reflected outside.
  • Be intentional with your planning. What do you want employees to do, say, think and feel as a result of your change communication? How do you want or need them to behave?
  • If you don’t set your intentions, you’ve got zero chance of measuring.
  • Take the corporate out of corporate comms when communicating change. This is the time for human, relatable and relevant connection with your people.
  • Use consistency, clarity and certainty as your anchors.
  • Map your known knowns and known unknowns.
  • Explain your thinking. Work out loud and bring employees with you.
  • Once change has finished, communicate this fact.
  • Make sure you review your change communication. Have a wash-up at the end, what did you learn? What went well/dreadfully? What would you do differently next time?

I talked about some of these rules in an episode of my Candid Comms podcast: How to communicate change.

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Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 13 June 2022.


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