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CHANGE COMMUNICATION – MORE THAN JUST NEWSLETTERS

No strategy and no change process can work without the employees being part of it, and that can only be achieved through effective, comprehensive and regular corporate communication. Communication that should never be a one-way street – dissemination of information and dialogue must go hand in hand.

INVOLVING THOSE AFFECTED – IN OPEN DIALOGUE

Not just the management of change is a big task: its communication is a real challenge as well. “It is all about personal dialogue between managers and employees, about interaction and workshops – in other words about becoming a stakeholder,” writes communications expert Richard Lips in a change management case study drawn up by Commerzbank AG.

This participation includes more than just the management; it refers to all employees of an organization. Knowing how to give everyone a sense of being a necessary part of the change avoids unhelpful gossip and uncertainty. This always arises when communication is too little, too vague and too late. In contrast: Transparency, openness and willingness to engage in dialogue create clarity and dependability in change projects. This makes it all the more important to deal authentically with employees’ critical questions and concerns and involve them through communication instead of ignoring them.

CHANGE COMMUNICATION HAS MANY FORMATS

Transparent and regular communication keeps employees and management up to date with the change process. This means more than just providing information about the current status of the (sub-)projects of change processes. The integration and clarification of questions from all those involved is also part of proper change communication, and in fact it represents an essential prerequisite for its success.

Depending on the change process, new and established channels can be combined as required. Typical communication formats include:

  • Announcements on the intranet
  • Regular round robin mails and newsletters
  • Letters from the management
  • Podcasts und videos
  • Web conferences and live radio broadcasts with question and answer sessions
  • A change story that is kept up to date and reaches all employees and stakeholders on an emotional level
  • Workshops and large group events for dialogue and exchange – for teams, divisions, departments or across companies
  • Brochures and flyers

FOR A LASTING EFFECT: CHANGE COMMUNICATION WITH CIDPARTNERS

cidpartners has been supporting organizations in change processes for many years: from vision and strategy development, planning and initiation to change management during implementation. Change communication has a special role to play as a key success factor in all phases of strategy and change processes. In view of its significance, we take a wide range of different change communication aspects into account:

  • Maintaining authenticity: Communication must be credible and be taken seriously. This means going beyond simple advertising messages and providing a realistic picture of what is happening now and what will happen in the future.
  • Tailor-made communication: Communication must be tailored to the company and the people in it by the use of suitable formats. For example, anyone who communicates change in a digital company exclusively via posters and flyers on the trays in the canteen should urgently extend their communication mix.
  • Proven and new channels: We rely on an efficient mix of tried and tested communication channels and the use of new media and formats that send out a positive signal: “Something is on the move, and we’re moving with it.”.
  • Using language: Different organizations have different language styles that reflect their culture. These linguistic features should be integrated into the communication, but also consciously modified in key areas. Why? Because change is also signalled through language.
  • Staying connected: It makes sense to share the same information in different ways depending on the target group. It is important to select the appropriate level of detail to ensure the greatest possible benefit. Information and topics that are essential for target group A could ‘overload’ target group B because they is not relevant to it.
  • Creative and colourful: Communication should convey the change objective without being boring. This can achieved through fresh and creative visualization and/or by combining the existing corporate identity and corporate design framework with a new look, for example.

Would you like to know more? Please contact us. As a management consultancy with a focus on strategy and change processes, we will be pleased to contribute our experience and expertise to your process and communication management.

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THE RULES OF GOOD CHANGE COMMUNICATION

Change communication requires critical examination of three major areas: transparency and clarity, humanity and emotion, integration and participation. If all these aspects are taken into account, the organization is well equipped for successful change.

Transparency and Clarity

Fact-based communication that informs at the right time reduces the danger of gossip and rumours taking over. Clear communication and transparent information help to make the current status of change tangible. This creates trust and gives all stakeholders a sense of knowing where they are.

Humanity and Emotion

In addition to ‘hard’ figures, data and facts to demonstrate this and prove that, ‘soft’ aspects are particularly important for people in change processes. Allowing sufficient space for discussion of ambiguities, uncertainties and criticism of the change process helps to make willing participants out of opponents. Or to put it another way: Emotions should not and need not be suppressed – it is a matter of dealing with them appropriately. Employees will acknowledge this with gratitude, and openness to change will increase.

Integration and Participation

Integrating the perspectives of employees and managers makes change communication what it should be: tangible and meaningful. Through cooperation with communications experts and creative agencies, change communication becomes an experience that takes people seriously and gives them confidence.

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Detlev Trapp is founder of cidpartners and is especially appreciated by our clients as a strategic sparring partner and initiator.

Detlev Trapp

Managing Partner & founder

+49.228-25 90 85.10

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