PROOF | change communication & employee alignment

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10 tips for the new year

For change communication and internal communication professionals, 2020 has been a year of learning a lot and learning it fast. Now, with the end of this Covid-dominated year in sight, here our top ten tips and action points for 2021.

#1 Ensure you have an overarching story
A story helps to explain where an organisation wants to go. It provides a framework and is the first step to ensuring that employees either choose to connect with new goals or continue to be committed to existing ones. Achieving this sense of connection depends on aligning managers and employees. COVID-19 has, of course, brought about many changes. Organisations are refining their strategies right now, and this in turn requires a revised story. While the ‘why’ of any new direction is obviously important, just as ‘purpose’ is, in the end, two things are paramount to both managers and employees: what will happen and how it will happen.

#2 Listen to your employees
Your employees are your best advisers, so it’s a smart idea to provide feedback loops. This way, you know what the hot issues are in the organisation. You can gather feedback by talking regularly with employees and holding dialogue sessions. Another option is to hold frequent pulse checks – today there are lots of appealing ways to measure and begin a dialogue. The days of endless questionnaires are long gone.

#3 Optimise the employee journey
Most organisations expect that at least some of the changes of the last year will become permanent. This will impact on your employee journey, which will require some optimisation. From your internal communication infrastructure to your HR vision, from digital onboarding to working actively on social dynamics and from your employer brand to online learning, the employee journey has many aspects and it is important to define priorities. Also key, especially at the moment, is that HR and Communication work together to strengthen the employee journey step by step.

#4 Tailor your communication to different groups
Attitudes, mentalities and mindsets all differ, which is why you need to gear your communications to your target group. Yes, that sounds logical, yet many organisations still take a one-size-fits-all approach. To avoid this, map out who works where, what the local feelings are, what help is needed and then customise your communications accordingly.

#5 Determine how you are going to work together
Develop a vision on how you want to work together as an organisation, and a manifesto laying out how you want people to interact. Ways of working together, of meeting and of socialising differ across organisations, so it’s important to start documenting your ideal as this gives everyone a rock to cling to.

#6 Strengthen HR communication by ensuring HR and Communication share a calendar
With so many HR topics requiring good communication, HR and the Communication department need to operate a common calendar. As a business issue, HR-related communication is moving up the agenda and increasingly deserves a strategic approach that will align it with the strategy of the organisation.

#7 Check what skills and capabilities your leaders are going to need
Leaders and leadership are crucial to aligning your workforce, especially at the moment, when there is a huge need for leaders who can inspire confidence and direct the dialogue and outcomes. For them to do this, you need to know what skills and capabilities they will need – and which ones they lack right now. You’re going to need a tailor-made approach because no two managers are the same.

#8 Focus and complete
The next few months are going to be turbulent. Given this, it is particularly important that your goals remain clear and that you communicate them clearly. Just as important is ensuring that things that are started are completed, too, and at all levels in the organisation.

#9 Create calm, clarity and regularity
At any time, but especially in uncertain ones, it is really important to maintain a sense of calm in an organisation. Calm, clarity and regularity. For Communication, this means sticking to a clear and regular communication rhythm, so employees know what to expect and when.

#10 Have fun
Everyone needs to feel job satisfaction. But that can be difficult to achieve when, as now, colleagues see less of each other. You can compensate by planning shared moments in which to relax and do activities together. This will help to ensure that your employees enjoy what they do. Listening also helps as well.

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