create change comm a-team

With competing priorities and limited time, getting employees to embrace change is tough. But effective internal communication can be a game changer.

Your role as a communicator is to come up with the game plan to reach and engage employees: define the objectives, create the right messaging and choose the right channels.

But when it comes time to deliver the message to employees, you can’t just rely on email or the intranet. To succeed and make the change stick, you need to recruit an A-team to get the job done.

So, who should you add to your team?

You need a mix of people from all levels of the organization, each with a unique communication role to help you engage employees and make change stick.

Here are five types of team members and why they’re so important to your efforts.


1. Leaders

Who are they?

This group includes the CEO and their direct reports, as well as change sponsors and business unit leaders.

What’s their role?

Employees look to leaders to explain the big picture and “what it means to us.” Leaders share the vision behind the change, clarify priorities, and share progress and accomplishments as the change rolls out.

For example: During a recent merger we worked on, the CEO shared how bringing the two companies together will make the business successful, as well as the high-level strategy for making it happen.

How can you help leaders?

  • Develop a mini communication plan for each senior leader that outlines what they need to do and when (e.g., send one weekly email update to all your team).
  • Provide key talking points leaders should cover in town hall meetings or emails.
  • Create opportunities to have a conversation with employees and address their questions about the change (e.g., leader coffee chats or Yammer posts).


2. Managers

Who are they?

We’re talking about people managers or supervisors who lead teams.

What’s their role?

During times of change, employees turn to managers first when they have questions or concerns. Managers translate what the change means for their teams and their day-to-day work.

For example: After launching a new performance system at a software company, managers reinforced what employees needed to do (e.g., to log in and update their goals) during regular team meetings.

How can you help managers?

  • Host a virtual “change workshop” to discuss managers’ roles and brainstorm challenges or questions their team members may have.
  • Follow the workshop with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and invite managers to share new or challenging questions that pop up.
  • Create a Yammer group (or other internal social tool) to share employee success stories and select a few to highlight in an upcoming town hall or newsletter.


3. Members of a communication network

Who are they?

A communication network may include colleagues who are responsible for communication or those with an “unofficial” communication role, such as an HR or IT manager.

What’s their role?

Members of the network are your eyes and ears across the organization. They provide a sounding board to test new ideas and get feedback on the best ways to reach employees in business units or regions. And the network can help you deliver communication—from coordinating logistics and hosting meetings to distributing materials.

For example: During the launch of a new HR platform, members of the communication network grabbed existing content (in this case, an article) and leveraged it across channels in their functions and businesses, including e-newsletters and Yammer pages. 

How can you help members of a communication network?

  • Define their communication role: Be clear about how you need their help and provide resources (e.g., key messages, FAQ, articles, etc.).
  • Host monthly meetings with your network to get updates on how the change is going and address challenges they identify.


4. Change champions

Who are they?

These are employees from any level of the organization that understand what the change means and are ready to share their knowledge with others. Often, they are early change adopters.

What’s their role?

Change champions are the bridge between change leaders (those managing the change) and employees (those impacted by the change). They lead by example and motivate others to embrace change by offering their support and advice.

For example: When a health care company made major technology/desktop changes, “tech coaches” were deployed to wander floors at key sites and address questions on the spot.

How can you help change champions?

  • Provide tools (key messages and FAQ) and communication platforms (town hall meetings or social media) to share their stories.
  • Create a feedback channel for champions to share feedback and ideas.


5. Change management team members

Who are they?

This team is responsible for the change and may include senior leaders and sponsors, project managers and other subject matter experts.

What’s their role?

This team knows the change better than anyone and will likely be your source for content: key decisions, deliverables, obstacles and timing. Plugging into this team will ensure your communications are accurate and timely. 

How can you help the change management team?

  • Schedule regular check-ins to stay in sync with the change management team’s efforts.
  • Conduct a pulse survey or focus group to provide an update on how employees feel about the change and potential challenges.

Embedding these five roles in your change communication plan will not only lighten the load for you, but it will also ensure your organization’s communication efforts make a real difference for employees.


Originally published on Medium
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