Antoinette Bonita Kamau is the Chief Executive Officer at Commken Afrique. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Change is the new normal in the era of social transformation, where businesses must contend with constantly evolving trends and rapid evolutions of technology tools. Employees are frequently asked to process and manage a lot of change quickly because businesses have to adapt to thrive. Moreover, they require a business strategy that uses the dynamics of the shifting social and economic climate and enables them to leverage them.
One thing is clear, the top-down, command-and-control corporate strategy and management is becoming a relic of the past. Gone are the days of vertically stratified management structures.
But what comes next?
And to accomplish this, I think the modern business requires a workable change management strategy.
Longstanding research shows that communication during organizational change is a make-or-break factor in the success or failure of a new initiative. Well-managed internal communications emphasizing ethics, transparency, openness, listening, and upward communication are essential to successfully guiding employees through the change journey.
So how exactly does this play out?
- It helps keep your people informed and builds awareness and support for the change.
Here’s a shocker: people don’t like to be kept in the dark about things that can impact their lives. We like knowing about the company we work for, the projects we’re working on, upcoming events, policy changes, headcount changes, etc. Proper internal communications help stakeholders understand what is changing, why, and how it will affect them. It delivers timely, consistent information to key organizational people about the change, preferably in a way that gets them involved and invested in the bigger picture. It also provides a mechanism to share feedback and ask questions.
2. It gives people a voice. Internal communications are often considered “top-down” messaging, a string of directives by leaders for the employees. But really, it’s a two-way street. The lack of proper channels for communicating feedback, frustration, and praise makes people feel voiceless. The fact of the matter is everyone wants to feel heard and that their opinions are valued. This can be done by delegating messaging to representatives of each department in your company rather than depending solely on the HR department. This way, your people feel appreciated and listened to, and that value cannot be underestimated.
3. Internal communications help keep people calm in times of crisis
Things don’t always go as planned or envisioned. Sometimes, businesses are forced to restructure; mergers and acquisitions happen. This is when people need internal communications most. Remember the chaos that ensued when Elon Musk bought Twitter? In announcements of impending structural changes, particularly in the case of layoffs, being transparent about what is happening, who is affected, and what the change means for the organization requires sensitivity. People will have questions, and internal communications create a safe space for these difficult-to-have conversations that can help sustain your organization through tough times.
4. Internal communications create another dimension to your workplace
We spend ⅓ of our lives at work, which is about 90,000 hours of our lives on average, yet our jobs are painfully mundane for many people. A chore to be marked off on our to-do list: attend the scheduled meetings, talk to a colleague or two – if necessary – get our work done and book it immediately after the clock strikes 5. If we are being truthful, this kind of work style isn’t satisfying. We need to demand more from the workplace: a career rather than a job that fosters lifelong learning and personal growth. Consumers also want a relationship with their favorite brands and businesses that goes beyond simple transactions.
5. This is where good internal communication comes to play. It promotes learning events and leadership training programs, shares customer feedback and media coverage, and provides opportunities for people to get more involved if they so choose. Giving your workers the freedom to promote events and programs that give your team members the necessary knowledge gives their job another satisfying dimension.
Whether you are changing technology, business practices, leadership, or a combination of these things, change management communication is essential to helping people move from where they are today to the desired “future state.”
Through an approach to change management that integrates the power of internal communications, it’s possible to unlock the power of productive, committed, value-focused employees in an age of social transformation. The writer is the Lead Communication Consultant at Commken Afrique; she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org