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Org change communications strategy & tips

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How to approach communications related to the implementation of a project or other organizational change, complete with a quick reference sheet.

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Org change communications strategy & tips

  1. 1. Organizational Change Communications Strategy Prepared by Liz Steblay, Principal Consultant © 2014 All rights reserved
  2. 2. Overview of This Summary  This document is a summary of a proposed communication strategy and plan to support technology initiatives and projects such as... • The implementation of a new enterprise software such as SAP or Oracle • The rollout of a new tool such as a password management system or single-sign-on  The intended audiences for this summary include: • Project Management • Project Team Members  This document is typically supported by detailed communications & stakeholder management plans.  This strategy focuses on communications designed to support the delivery of the project to an organization; it does not address the information needs within the project team itself.  This particular sample strategy does not address the communication needs of any external stakeholders (e.g. customers or vendors). 2
  3. 3. Overview of Change Management Components Effective change strategy is built upon the three pillars of first establishing clarity around purpose and objectives, then building awareness and buy-in throughout the organization, and finally making sure that the organization has the ability to implement and sustain the change. Clarity Change Vision Change Change Strategy Leadership Commitment Capability Organizational Alignment Go-Live Prep & User Education Support & Training Project Team Performance Monitor results, adjust as needed 3
  4. 4. Communications Commitment ► Effective change communication includes: • • • • • • • An overall strategy that pulls people along the change curve (i.e. gives people the information they need just before they realize they need or want it) Coordination across geographies of content and timing An effective mix of mediums Repetition of key messages over time and across mediums Targeted messages to particular groups to address their specific concerns based on audience segmentation Using direct supervisors where possible to convey project details and address concerns A way to gather input, concerns and feedback from the organization ► Questions: • What are the two most effective ways that we currently communicate to end users? • What have stakeholders heard about the project or change so far? • How can we ensure that everyone is “on the same page”? 4
  5. 5. Change Strategy Effective organizational change strategy is based on setting expectations correctly and successfully managing stakeholder perceptions throughout the project lifecycle. Given human dynamics, it is important to establish awareness and clarity about the project months in advance of go-live and then to build commitment to the program as go-live draws nearer. The overall goal is to have all stakeholders fully bought into the program in time for go-live so they are ready, willing and able to adapt to the new environment. 1. Clarity Introduction – Basic information about the program to bring everyone up to speed (what’s in scope, why, when, where, who) 2. Commitment Key Changes – Key terms and concepts as well as what will change and who will be affected (set and manage expectations) 3. Capability “Go Live” Prep – Information about new processes and systems, policies and procedures; education & training, how to prepare 4. Sustainment Support & Benefits Realization – Tools necessary to sustain change; where to go for support; how change will be managed moving forward, tracking benefits, remedial training (if necessary) 5
  6. 6. Objectives Through the Project Lifecycle All stakeholders and end-users should be “pulled along the change curve”. The idea is to be one step ahead, giving them information just before they knew they wanted it. This proactive approach builds acceptance and confidence for the new system & processes. Change Strategy Objectives Commitment • • Capability Sustainment • • Acceptance Hands-on Mental tryout Self-concern • Awareness Go-Live Stakeholder Perceptions Clarity Project Lifecycle 6
  7. 7. Communication & Change Key Principles  Effective communication is the single most important tool for facilitating organizational change. Change without effective communications can result in:  Stakeholder acceptance and buy-in cannot happen without effective communication. • Increased “grapevine” activity and the spread of misinformation  low morale  Communication is not a single step or component of change — it must be fully integrated with project management.  Communication is not something that is done to a target audience; effective communication includes two-way dialogue and an alignment of interests. (This is where communications dovetails with stakeholder engagement activities.) • Higher than expected resistance to change  lack of system use • Confusion resulting from change in the work process and fear of the unknown  low productivity  Strategically planning for effective communication entails more than sending out e-mails or holding a meeting. 7
  8. 8. Basic Communications Strategy  Communicate via managers/supervisors as well as directly to end users – Communication has the best chance of changing behavior if it comes from the most desired and trusted source: the immediate supervisor – However, do not rely on communication trickling down through middle management; changes should be communicated directly to the end users as well as to their managers  Target influential people and/or end users – have them become “change agents” or early adopters in the field – Get buy-in of key people in each organization (Sales, Finance, Manufacturing, HR) so they can help lead the change – Note for Sales organizations: Salespeople are competitive by nature; they will likely copy whatever the most successful people are doing  Establish two-way communication so employees know that their involvement is important and valued; this creates buy-in and support – Solicit their input whenever feasible – Establish a way for them to submit questions and provide feedback  Fulfill the informational needs of the various stakeholders and end users by “pulling them along the change curve”. – Strategically build the end users’ awareness and acceptance of the project – Satisfy people’s curiosity to know “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) – Manage people’s expectations! 8
  9. 9. Communication Objectives to Facilitate Change 1 Create awareness and understanding of the project (who, what, where, when & why) among all stakeholders 2 Align with the company’s overall corporate strategy and fiscal year objectives as much as possible 3 Create understanding of how the project ties to other relevant initiatives (“connect the dots”) 4 Ensure that all stakeholders understand key changes and “what’s in it for me” 5 Create positive energy and support for the project while managing expectations appropriately 6 Establish a desire and an urgency within the organization for the new & improved way of working 9
  10. 10. Overall Approach to Change Communications 1. Stakeholder Analysis Strategic Realignment As Needed 3. Implement Plan & Monitor Effectiveness • Multi-channel & reinforced • Authored by influencers • Feedback loop • Identify relevant stakeholders • Understand context & culture • Identify issues & questions • Segment into groups • Uncover resistance or barriers Communication that is proactive, strategic and stakeholder-driven accelerates and increases the likelihood of a successful change effort. Proactive Message Creation 2. Targeted Strategy • Audience focused • Clear objectives • Key messages based on stakeholder analysis • Identified channels & timing Defined Process 10
  11. 11. Audience Identification & Segmentation Project Sponsors and Project Steering Teams Executive sponsorship is critical for any project. Projects that impact non-I.T. people need clear sponsorship from business leaders Executive Staff Create communications to address key areas of concern to ensure their full support. Functional Directors / Department Managers Communications that focus on helping managers understand and support the impending change is crucial for ensuring a successful implementation. Change Agents / Influencers Success will depend on having respected “early adopters” throughout all geographies and aspects of the business. End Users People who will be impacted by the new policies and solutions as part of their daily jobs need to be prepared and on-board prior to go-live. Segmenting stakeholder audiences will facilitate the organizational change process by:  Ensuring active support and change leadership from the appropriate senior management  Increasing business involvement (i.e. not just I.T.)  Engaging critical management stakeholders  Targeting relevant key messages to different groups  Maximizing buy-in and ownership prior to go-live! External Stakeholders (if applicable) It’s important to realize if any vendors, customers, or partners will be impacted. (For example, people who will need relevant reports/audits, customers who get status or conduct business via the web, etc.) These external stakeholders may also need to be kept in the loop and prepared for any changes. 11
  12. 12. Delivery Mechanisms / Channels Effective Mediums - Best Practice Effective change communications tend to be more resource intensive and are characterized by a high degree of interaction. The greater the change, the greater the need for “in person” communications. 1 to 1 meetings Try to use as much as possible Dept. / Staff meetings Change complexity Roundtables & workshops Executive briefings Try to use only to create general awareness E-Mail messages Intranet Newsletters Noticeboards Audience coverage 12
  13. 13. Commitment Communications vs. Engagement ► Key Principle of Change Communications • Communication should not be “done to” a target audience; effective communication includes two-way dialogue and an alignment of interests. (This is where communications dovetails with stakeholder engagement activities.) ► “Communications” are things that are published, spoken or sent – primarily passive, unidirectional messaging ► Engagement activities are dynamic interactions between two or more people  Both are needed for effective change management! Communication Activities Engagement Activities • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Emails Videos Newsletters Handouts Intranet postings Posters and flyers Voicemail messages Bulletin board postings Large-scale conference calls (e.g. quarterly meetings) Presentation materials • • Meetings and working sessions Q&A sessions Interviews & focus groups Town-hall meetings Phone conversations “Lunch & Learn” events Small-scale conference calls or virtual meetings Unscheduled office “drop-bys” Informal hallway conversations 13
  14. 14. High Level Communications & Engagement Strategy Change Strategy Objectives Clarity Commitment Tier 1 • Engage 1:1 • Engage 1:1 to • Communicate • Engage in Stakeholders to validate vet solutions, progress issue project timeline and • Engage 1:1 or in resolution, • Senior scope, costs small meeting removal of Leaders regarding risks obstacles • Key Decision business case and and issues Makers priority Tier 2 Stakeholders • Project Team • Project Contributors • Extended Team Members • Provide project • Engage in • On-board updates testing project team members (e.g. • Engage in gathering project kick off); ensure requirements understanding of purpose and scope Tier 3 Stakeholders • Change Recipients • Tangential stakeholders • Create project • Provide more details about awareness what will be (what it is, why, changing and why approximate timing, etc.) • Show sample reports, walk through process changes, demo functionality and/or share screen shots Capability Sustainment • Discuss business • Provide updates on readiness plans, adoption and ask for support success metrics (value realization) • Assist with business readiness activities • Share success metrics • Publicly acknowledge and thank team and contributors • Celebrate success • Provide guidance • Share tips, communicate wins on why/how to to build momentum adopt changes • Engage in training on successes • Engage in feedback • Distribute and improvement reference efforts materials • How to get help 14
  15. 15. Timing of Key Messages Change Strategy Objectives Clarity Prerequisites • Clarify objectives, purpose of the project • Clarify “framing” (a separate initiative or part of something else?) Communicate the business case • Why do we need this? • What will change? What will stay the same? • What are the major benefits? • What will we lose (if anything)? Explain scope and timing • What is the timeline? • Who is involved? (sponsors, key project leaders) Commitment Clarify scope and timing • What is happening now? • Who will be impacted? (by geography and/or by function) Early Adopters / Change Agents • Segment audience groups • Gather input, understand perceptions Clarify impact • Highlight what’s in it for me? (WIIFM) • How will this impact daily routines? • Target key messages to audience needs • Host info sessions to explain key changes, facilitate Q&A Capability Enable Feedback Loop • Foster 2-way communication (e.g. an e-mail address or via change agents) Periodic Updates • Explain progress to date, including any changes in timeline, scope and/or approach • Continuously manage expectations; build support • Publish case studies if applicable • Publish results of testing or pilot program Sustainment Go-Live Announcement • Inform all employees of new process, tools • Recognize project team • Reiterate how to get help Periodic Updates • Share tips across regions • Publicize “wins” (e.g. usage statistics, success stories) • Recognize & reward • What’s next? Preparation for Go-Live • Hold training / workshops • Encourage hands-on practice if applicable • Distribute quick reference guides and/or “survival guides” 15
  16. 16. Sample Communications & Change Plan Communication Plan Sample ERP Phase II Upgrade Notes:  This plan does not outline all Org. & Change Management activities – only those related to Communications, Training, or Stakeholder Management (building buy-in).  This plan is arranged chronologically.  This plan is a working document, managed and used by Liz Steblay (i.e. expect things to change some) Legend for Objective Column (applicable to end users): Aw = Awareness, Ac = Acceptance, O = Ownership, S = Sustaining Ref. # 1 2 Item Official project announcement Managers’ Info Comm. Objective Target Audience(s) AwAcOS Specific Objectives / Key Messages 1. e-mail, 2. and hardcopy     “ERP All Hands” Transactional X X user meeting users 4 Cut-over plan e- ERP users and X X mail stakeholders (dl-ERP) The project team  X     6 We’re live! ERP users and stakeholders (dl-ERP) Notes  X X Dept. managers of ERP transactional users (or all?) ERP end users (dl-ERP) Timing st 1. e-mail to dl- Mike P Early April (1  (Stephanie) week ideally,  ERP  2. 3. Same info but no later th + more to than the 14 .) dept. mgrs. 3 Cutover Tip Sheet Spokesperson / Author Reasons for upgrade / objectives WIIFM (benefits to users) Approach, timeline (what we’ve done so far, what’s coming up)  FAQ’s  Who to contact w/ questions    ERP users and X stakeholders (dl-ERP)  5 Medium st nd (1 , 2 ) X X    Overview of upcoming events and timing (e.g. ERP All Hands meeting, cut-over, etc.) What they need to do (e.g. encourage their people to participate) What this means for the employees in their department (Include info from #4 below too) Review cut-over plan and timing Get buy-in; solidify/confirm “user validators” Details of cut-over plan from end users point of view (keep it simple!) Be sure to hi-light minimum disruption to end user Who to contact w/ questions/issues   Mike P. By April 21 (Stephanie) (about a week before the ERP All Hands meeting) 1. Open Mike P, meeting (w/ Siva beer?) 1. e-mail to dl- Siva ERP 2. Hard copy to be extra sure? Here’s what you need to do before 1. Hard copy Siva 2. email “Day 1” and on Day 1 Who to contact with issues/concerns /questions Cut-over successful; Any issues to 1. e-mail to dl- Mike and ERP Siva report (“we’re aware of ___ and working on it…”) Congratulations to the team Who to contact for help Last week of  April (by April 28) A day or two  after the ERP All Hands  meeting Cover: What Why When Who Where. WIIFM = What’s In It For Me Do we need anything from the end user, i.e. confirming their access or usage? Idea: If it comes from the whole S.Team, it will up their commitment / involvement. A graphical timeline or calendar would be helpful Be sure to invite the project team Only mention the things that affect the end user (things that they will see or that will affect them) “Dear ERP User, Cutover to our new system is just 3 weeks away… here’s what you need to do to get ready.” Monday before cut-over (May 15) Monday, May   22 Include names of team if practical Include info on how to submit a problem request form if appropriate 16
  17. 17. Summary Commitment ► Effective change communication includes: • An overall strategy that pulls people along the change curve (i.e. gives people the information they need just before they realize they need or want it) • Coordination across geographies of content and timing • An effective mix of mediums • Repetition of key messages over time and across mediums • Targeted messages to particular groups to address their specific concerns based on audience segmentation • Using direct supervisors where possible to convey project details and address concerns • A way to gather input, concerns and feedback from the organization – remember to create opportunities to get people engaged! 17

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