After a ten-year career in public relations, during which she launched the San Francisco office for a global agency, Annette Leach began a five-year stint at WeWork, where she was responsible for a portfolio of 23 buildings across London. Given that background, Annette brings a unique perspective to considerations of how operations and workspaces will look beyond the pandemic, and how to manage communications to support and smooth workplace transitions. In Eureka Box's first guest blog, Annette provides her take on how to communicate effectively through change management programmes.
If you’d like to discuss how Eureka Box and Annette could help you with your change management programme and associated communications, then you can arrange an appointment here.
Change is something we’ve all had to embrace over the past year. Achieving effective change communication has always presented challenges, and never more so than when facing such uncertainty on a global scale. As the world begins to reopen, companies are faced with new challenges of integrating a hybrid workforce and re-energising company culture. Whether you’re implementing new technology, updating existing business practices, going through changes in leadership or undergoing a merger or acquisition, change communication is essential to helping your business succeed in the post-pandemic world.
My career has spanned strategic communications, leading and developing future leaders and most recently influencing culture and managing change at WeWork. Here is my 5-step plan for ensuring effective change communications:
1. Create a Change Communication Plan
Who will the change impact and how will it impact them? What are your expectations for business as usual? How will you communicate to different levels in the organisation and via which method? According to Gartner, 73% of change-affected employees report experiencing moderate to high stress levels and those suffering from change-related stress performed 5% worse than average.By planning and delivering effective communications, you can mitigate these trends and encourage support for business transformation.
2. Set Your Vision for Change
According to IBM’s 2021 CEO Study, outperforming organisations identify a sense of purpose and mission as critical to engaging employees. Take the opportunity to communicate your vision for change, clearly addressing topics that will capture hearts and minds. Be transparent on what will change as well as what will remain. Introduce key stakeholders to lead the change, including employee ambassadors. Finally, it is crucial to communicate how you measure success and a timeline for the change.
As a leader you are the beacon for change and change communications should be embedded into daily practice so that it is front of mind with team leaders. By signalling your commitment to the change, this will be magnified throughout the organisation.
3. Welcome Employee Questions & Feedback
Following the announcement about the proposed change, it’s natural that employees will have concerns and questions. Publicise an employee resource hub including FAQs, and links to appropriate group communication channels such as Slack, as well as how they may contact their employee ambassador to provide feedback. Inviting employees to share feedback is crucial for engagement and a timely response is critical in establishing trust and employee happiness.
4. Highlight Recognition & Progress
During a period of significant change it is typical for individuals to pass through the ‘grief cycle’ where they may experience feelings of denial, anger, bargaining, depression before hopefully reaching acceptance. To aid this transition, plan communication to highlight recognition and progress in line with your previously announced key success indicators. Sharing key milestones and celebrating employee contributions during the transformation will ensure that change remains front and centre, as well as signalling progress towards completion.
5. Share Outcomes & Give Thanks
When the change is complete, leadership should communicate key outcomes of the transformation, thanking their teams for their collaboration and support and including key learnings for future initiatives. This will also signify to your employees that it’s back to business as usual.
By following this 5-step plan you can create a platform for shared employee experience and engagement. In sharing your vision for change, welcoming and addressing feedback and highlighting recognition and progress, change communication helps your employees feel comfortable as your business moves to new ways of working in a post-pandemic world.