Communicating through change handout

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Uncertainty amidst change slows productivity, investments and progress. Consistent communication to your audience is key to alleviating fears and confirming a positive opinion toward your goals. The public will always assume the situation is worse than it actually is and will form an opinion with or without your communication. This handout presents communication practices that will help you position your company in a positive light whether in transition or not.

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Communicating through change handout

  1. 1. “Communicating through change” By: Stacy Armijo, Senior Vice President, Pierpont Communications Uncertainty is the enemy Uncertainty is the enemy of productivity, investment and progress Major changes are all uncertainty (unpredictable markets, unprecedented decisions) Decrease uncertainty (and increase performance) through effective communications Days of the insular CEO are over Amidst change (especially distress), CEOs may want to say nothing; Don’t! What your audience imagines is almost always much worse than reality Communication can allay fears, keep audiences focused on a positive way forward Effective communications are… Consistent and targeted – One message, but delivered with customized approach Thorough – Considering an organization’s many audiences Informative – Written for humans with information people actually want Accessible – In both format and style Timely – Sent at crucial moments and synchronized thoughtfully Frequent – Because you’re sick of saying it, your audience is barely starting to hear Consistent and targeted message Don’t just focus on the event; create a new vision for the future that is compelling Honor legacy and past contributions, but focus most on the future Be consistent in messages, targeted in delivery; one story in many voices Listen for resonance and be prepared to adjust, if needed Thorough: Consider ALL audiences Customers Students Investors Alumni Members Competitors Regulators Donors Vendors Contractors Suppliers Employees Partners Analysts Faculty Legislators Clients Parents Activists Lawmakers (Plus, “industry,” which is prospective customers, employees, partners investors, etc.)
  2. 2. Prioritize employee communications They are the most powerful segment to keep producing amidst change Whenever possible, make them the first to know about any major changes Set out benchmarks publicly and enlist employees’ help in achieving them Prepare them to respond to questions they’ll receive Informative: Deliver bad news with respect, candor and purpose The deeper you bury it, the harder they’ll dig (and the madder they’ll get) Focus more on “why” than “what” and most on “what’s next” Speak like a human being, avoiding meaningless “corporate speak” To the extent possible, answer questions in a direct, candid style Accessible: In format Just because you sent an email doesn’t mean anyone read or understood it Use every channel available to you to reach as many people as possible Be cognizant of work environments, schedules of all employees For big news, make every effort to do it in person (physically or virtually) Accessible: In style Aim for a style that is decisive, assured and empathetic Avoid over-confidence, arrogance or indifference Also avoid overly emotional reactions, like sadness or anger, or defensiveness Anticipate reactions and practice responses to maintain composure Timely and frequent Consider all audiences and time communications to them thoughtfully Assign liaisons to high-priority audiences to gauge reactions and respond Comprehension requires multiple repetitions in many ways Communicate often, even if you don’t have new info, to allay fears Remember… What they imagine is always worse than the reality Conversations will happen and opinions will form, with or without you Uncertainty is the enemy; effective communications can be the antidote Stacy Armijo SeniorVice President & Austin General Manager Pierpont Communications 512-448-4950 sarmijo@piercom.com www.piercom.com
  3. 3. Stacy Armijo, Senior Vice President, Pierpont Communications, 512-448-4950, sarmijo@piercom.com

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