Within an organization, one of the least trusted materials within the company is the company newsletter according to Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Senior Communications Manager at ITT Corporation. Most organizations fail at change management because they use traditional communications approaches that don’t improve the situation. In order to be successful, organizations and communications professionals must work to change attitudes and then change behaviors. Behavior is all determined by perspective. Are your employees going to buy into the new direction of the company, understand the new acquisition or merger, or the new line of business? Or are they going to simply salute mindlessly and continue working in a place that they do not understand or feel connected to? Change is not the problem, engagement is.
The emergence of symmetrical communications principles and practices are the new way to create change. People cannot be simply told what to do. They are to be engaged and be actively participating to develop a direction and provide their input. Once they are treated like valued assets, organizations can create a narrative and a strategy that everyone will buy into.
Communicating for Change Guidelines ( provided by Mr. D’Angelo)
- Create and communicate a clear and simple case for change, based on market and customer realities.
- Clearly indentify and communicate the market forces that the org faces in doing business
- Formulate and communicate a responsive business plan
- Outline the consequences of success and failure
- Finally tell and retell
- Use face to face communication
- Communicate relative performance of the local work are. [ Sharing localized performance metrics motivates individual work groups to explore their own ways to change behaviors and boost performance]
Companies must ask where do supervisors fit into the internal communications plan. They are the most trusted internal communicators to give information to employees. Organizations should work to communicate directly to first line supervisors because simply put, employees trust their bosses more than they do the CEO. Supervisors and managers need to be in the know to translate information from senior level executives and should be treated as privileged receivers of information and conduits.
A senior manager’s job is to communicate and it is human resources and the communications teams job to train these managers to communicate effectively and provide a structured process for the information to be disseminated. HR is also responsible for evaluating a manager’s performance and finding ways to improve the transparency between all levels.
Three essential change principles:
- Let the realties of the marketplace drive change
- Teach employees that management doesn’t have all the answers
- Ironically, change is now the status quo. Manage accordingly.
This is the second of a series of posts on Employee Communications.