This article was originally published in 2015 and has been completely updated in 2020.
Sometimes you feel your organization is making good progress in the business environment – floating smoothly along through the skies. Other times you feel you are fighting against head winds and turbulence. The past few years have seen organizations everywhere struggling with turbulence – tough economic conditions. As a result, almost every industry has its draining experiences of restructuring, cost saving and efficiency programs intended to prepare organizations to return to growth.
One of the toughest tasks for internal communicators is trying to translate organizational strategy to dispersed workforces – in other countries, states, regions, cities, functions or business units. Employees need to understand how their own efforts impact on organizational results. Change needs to happen locally.
Initially, managers understand the need to tighten costs via ‘reform’ programs, but people at ground level need to be persuaded. A useful start for the change process is to build the following into communication efforts:
Change communication expert Daniel Grafton from Agenda Strategies advocates preparing a local communication plan that is aligned with the overall organizational strategy, but adjusted to the local workplace. This is especially important for phased roll outs or a pilot programs.
Here’s how to develop a change communication plan suited to the local level:
An important action for you is to check on the delivery of your messages at the various dispersed workplaces. Cultivate some contacts you can trust in each of the locations, and when you send key messages to all such workplaces, phone your contacts to check on the content of the message passed on from the relevant manager, the timing of the message, and the tone of the message (a manager may repeat a message word-for-word, but may possibly undermine it by their facial expression or other body language). Phoning is better than emailing because it enables you to ask follow-up questions, and it is harder for the receiver to disguise how the message was treated by their manager or supervisor.
By thinking through the application of your communication at both a corporate and local level you can greatly improve the chances of success for your change program.
Photo: Ricardo-Gomez-Angel LZEVpsbSI9k at Unsplash
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