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Why comms needs to be factored into your business transformation plans, right from the start

There can be few large businesses around the UK and beyond that have not already been through, or are currently going through large scale business transformation programmes. But how many have developed their transformation plans with communications factored in from the start? And how many add it as an afterthought when they are already some way down the line, having realised that change can’t happen without employee engagement? Communication is critical to any form of organisational change. Embedding clear processes around how and when you should communicate from the start will help get your transformation off to a flying start. 

There are two key areas where effective comms can make a real difference to the success of a transformation programme. The obvious one is when it comes to communicating out to the rest of the business and getting employees to change behaviours. But comms can also help in bringing together cross-functional teams and getting them working more effectively towards the same goal. 

Engaging your employees 

Communication plays a vital role when it comes to engaging employees around a large-scale business change. If you fail to communicate your goals and how you plan to achieve them, how can you expect employees to support and adopt the changes you are implementing? Many a digital transformation program has been viewed as unsuccessful because employees have failed to fully adopt new tools and technology or processes. 

So how do you engage employees? Firstly, it is vital that you understand your internal audiences. In a large organisation there will be different types of employees with their own challenges and requirements, so you will need to tailor your communications to different employees. There isn’t always a one size fits all solution.  

Avoid over reliance on email and make use of existing business collaboration tools. You should always make sure you are communicating via different channels to ensure that your message has reached everyone in your organisation. 

Two-way communication is crucial when it comes to engaging employees. Give your employees the opportunity to ask questions and to share their thoughts and feedback where possible. Face-to-face communication is always the best way to engage.

Louise Fisk, Communications and Marketing Director at BAE Systems suggests,

When that’s not possible you need to think about how you can use tools like video conferencing to bring people into the room.

Helping cross-functional teams work effectively 

During large scale business transformation, it is often the case that teams which don’t usually work together, will have to come together and form cross-functional teams. Open and transparent communication between both leadership and team members is crucial here.  

Hannah Bamberger, IT Communications Lead at Boston Consulting Group comments,

Where teams are cross-functional and often working remotely, it’s important to have transparent communications from the beginning to avoid any misunderstanding which may arise from not being able to see each other face-to-face each day and ask questions.

Matt Perry, Director at Transition15 suggests that,

Cross-functional team communications need to be built into the ways of working from the start. The mechanisms for regular communication should be agreed by the team so that they feel they are owning this process, rather than being told how they should do something.

It’s also important that leadership are clear in their goals and communicate them to their teams from the start so that they unite to achieve the same goal. A lack of communication coupled with an unwillingness to come together to work as a cross-functional team, can happen when leadership hasn’t communicated well around what is needed, and what the goals are from the beginning.

Hannah Bamberger comments, 

You often end up with the wrong thing being delivered or half way through a big transformation programme you realise it isn’t going in the direction it should be. At that point it’s much harder to recommunicate and get people to change direction.

There’s a high likelihood that change will fail if you do not communicate from the start. Employees need to feel part of the change as its happening and you will need to support people through the change curve, which can take time. If you get this right, then any future change is likely to run more smoothly and be successful. 

If communicating around change sounds like something you are currently struggling with, get in touch to arrange an employee engagement workshop, or a planning session for how to support cross-functional teams in working together more effectively. 

Sian HeaphyBuilding communications

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