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How to incorporate a communications strategy into your change programme (part 1)

At the heart of any change programme are the people impacted by the change who need to accept and adopt new ways of working. If these people have not been engaged with the business rationale for the change and communicated with effectively throughout the lifecycle of the programme, then the change programme may fail because of the resistance by staff to the change presented to them.

At the beginning of a change programme, it can be, at times, difficult perhaps impossible to give a clear description of what the change will look like. This can result in a hesitation to deliver any communications at all after the initial big announcement, which can lead to the circulation of rumours and this may impact the integrity of the change programme before it has even had the chance to get off the ground.

So it is important to not wait until the full information is available, as you must build an awareness of the need for change.

In this 2-part article, we will explore some of the key considerations for developing a communication strategy within your change programme.

Why is the organisation making the change?

Being able to articulate the reasons for the change and the benefits it will bring are key foundations for your communication strategy. People are likely to become interested when they understand what the change involves and from that they can start to understand what’s in it for them and how it impacts their job role.

For example, is the change related to a merger of organisations which means a business process alignment is required to ensure the organisation can operate effectively? Or has there been a change in member/donor expectations and the organisation needs to adapt to their changing needs or risk a decline in member/donor retention? Equally important is being able to link the change to the business strategy, which makes it easier for stakeholders to see and understand the change programme in the wider context of organisational business objectives.

Who are we communicating with?

Stakeholder identification is the next step so that you understand which audiences – both internal and external – that need to be communicated with and the type of information they need to receive given their role in the change and the impact it may have on them. By segmenting the audiences in this way, messages can be better targeted making the communications more personalised and improving the understanding of the messages to be relayed.

For example, a board of trustees will need to receive a different level of information and in a different tone to those who are the recipients of the greatest level of change.

In the second part of this article, we’ll look at setting objectives, developing key messages and identifying how they’ll be delivered.

 

For more insight into the importance of a communications strategy within a change programme, join our free training programme “How to deliver successful projects”. Of particular interest among the 6 modules will be “How to deliver true organisational change” and “How to ensure your project delivers real benefit”.