Communications employees drafting communication plan

Yikes! Another change effort has landed on your desk and it’s time to pull together a communication plan—quickly.

With the pace of change increasing in organizations and success rates decreasing, there’s a lot of pressure on communicators to get it right.

Segmentation—dividing your target audience into groups—is your secret weapon to ensure that employees are engaged and change sticks. This technique will help you move from communication that is high level—and ignored by most employees—to information that is specific and helpful.

Here’s how to segment:

After you have interviewed owners of the change, identify key groups that will be affected. Keep in mind that some groups may have low impact, such as simply understanding what’s happening around them, while others may be required to change how they work. If your organization has a project or change management function, leverage that team’s stakeholder analysis; it should be a helpful start.  

Segment employees to ensure the change is well defined

  1. Map groups
  2. Identify what each group is required to know and do
  3. Consider subgroups
Now consider what needs to happen for the change to be successful. Focus on what each group needs to learn and do differently. Be as specific as possible.  
As you add the impact for each group, you may discover that subgroups are required. For example, in Step 1, you may have included “managers,” but now that you have a better picture of impact for them, it’s better to break that group into two: “people managers” and “other managers.”  

Now you’re ready to identify communication tactics that will help each group learn about the change and understand what to do. Consider tactics that will build awareness (such as posters and email), as well as knowledge-building tools (such as workshops and Q&A sessions).

Here’s an example of how one company segmented employees for a communication plan designed to launch a new web-based performance management system:


Assistants to
senior leaders
  • Understand the new process
  • Lead by example: use the system to provide feedback
  • Understand the new process
  • Understand leader’s role and flag when participation is required
  • Understand the new process
  • Train people managers to use the system
  • Know how to run reports
  • Understand the new process
  • Use the system to create a plan and approve the plans of direct reports
  • Know how to run reports
  • Understand the new process
  • Use the system to create a plan and enter updates