16 January 2012

Change communications

Moving on after difficult organisational change


A guide to support you through change communications and the aftermath


Make sure leaders are on the same page and clear about strategy following change

The Board, your leadership team and front line managers must be clear and consistent on where the business is now heading. Everyone can then work towards this new vision, can communicate it clearly and begin to build trust again. This will require an investment in leadership support – communication, listening, training and coaching.


Leader and line manager support is essential

Managers and team leaders need the opportunity to ‘talk confidentially to each other’ and essentially vent their feelings following change. This opportunity for openness and honesty is essential in bringing everyone together.


Coaching, toolkits and training needs to be available so they have the support they need to handle not only their own feelings but also those of their team and the many questions they’re likely to receive.


  • Manager toolkit resources will guide them through how to deal with difficult questions, especially when the situation might not be so clear. They also offer ideas for team activities.
  • Manager focus groups work well and forums allow managers to interact with each other and share how they’re dealing with different scenarios.
  • Consider bringing in speakers that have also been through challenging change and survived to inspire your leaders.


Remember to let employees catch up with what’s happened

When you’re involved with change for a while, it’s easy to feel ready to move on quicker than others. Often we have to remind ourselves that front line employees might only just have heard of the new situation and therefore need to go through the change process themselves.


  • Give employees the chance to let off steam/talk it through.
  • Employees often need support with their new (and usually increased) workloads, help with priorising additional work and possibly new skills training – more work, less resource is something everyone is familiar with.
  • Help employees understand new roles and how departments now relate to each other – provides for better understanding.


Regular communications and plenty of opportunity to feedback

Regular and structured communications must continue in the new world, once  changes have taken place.


  • Put in place plenty of feedback options – breakfast catch ups, open door sessions, walking the floor, scribble boards, focus groups, broadcasts, pulse surveys.
  • Language must be simple, straightforward and honest.
  • Make the link back to why we’re here and where we are going.
  • Remember to take a step back – people often assume everyone knows the score and often change is so complex that we forget why we had to do this in the first place.


A new clear, direction for our future

Re-enforce the new direction we’re all working towards – vision, mission, values, behaviours, goals and milestones.


  • Creative journey maps are hugely popular and bring your strategic plan alive. A visual that shows at a glance where we’re headed, what’s happening and when with key dates and actions will keep it simple and easy to understand.
  • Make a clear link back to what employees need to do in their everyday roles to continue making a difference.
  • Ensure employees know how to contribute and get them involved – this is what counts and what will make a difference – their ideas will push you forward more quickly.


Involvement all the way

Provide plenty of opportunity to get involved in progressing towards your new vision.


  • Make involvement fun and interesting and make use of different media (social media, forums, games, quizzes, team talks etc).
  • Make involvement meaningful to people – as individuals, teams, departments, countries – one generic set of activity won’t be right/personal enough for different functions/cultures.


Appreciate, recognise, reward

When employees are going through continued change, we must recognise the effort, emotion and hard work it takes to keep going and still deliver.


  • Recognise colleague contribution and stay positive about the future.
  • Rewarding colleagues can be cost effective. Keep it fun and motivating. For plenty of ideas see the book in our reading list on the internal comms hub – 1001 ways to reward your employees).
  • New teams need to bond, generate happy experiences and build trust. Team building and informal socials help achieve this.


Take inspiration from best practice

Many have walked the path before us! Inspire your teams with speakers who have achieved great things and overcome significant change – this can be informal as well as formal – use your network!


For example…

  • Kraft/Cadbury takeover
  • NHS transformation
  • Housing industry – major structural change and having to find new revenue streams


We have speaker contacts in all of the above




And finally… let Synergy help you. We’ve a great track record in successful, creative change communications.


Contact the Synergy team




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