The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 forced every industry to rethink their relationship with technology. IT moved from a supporting role into the spotlight. And as employees and leaders alike saw what technology and IT could do, their view of these tools changed.
Today, companies that once operated out of spaces lined with cubicles, offices and conference rooms realize employees are at least as productive with a remote workforce. As leaders and financial stakeholders review budgets and forecast for the new year, many consider investing more capital in technology and less in real estate. The paradigm shift is happening right before our eyes.
There are benefits. Shifting from an office-based model to a remote model gives organizations access to a broader talent pool. But sweeping changes that affect every single employee are bound to have repercussions if those changes aren’t managed well or communicated to the team effectively. And successful adoption of an entirely new way of working starts with a good communication strategy – beginning in the boardroom and ending on the front-line.
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As an IT leader, you’re probably excited about these new changes. It’s a chance for you and your department to showcase your skills in a new way. You finally get to show your organization how technology and your department can make work better. But, without the right strategy, that buzz can die down quickly.
A wise person once asked, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” Planning and strategy are key to any initiative’s success. A good communications plan includes answers to these questions:
Who are your target audiences?
Every organization has a variety of employees doing a variety of jobs. While you may be communicating the same thing to each of these different audiences, how you tell them is as important as what you’re telling them. You know what your core message is, but you want to ensure your audience receives the message. Tailoring your message to each audience segment will ensure better reception.
For example, the C-suite wants to hear how the change will affect the bottom line, while more tactical employees will want to know how the change will improve their daily lives.
Once the C-suite is on board, they’ll help you find champions within the departments touched by the change. If leadership is as excited about the change as you are, it will be easier to get the rest of the organization on board too.
Every communication plan also needs to consider detractors. And no matter how positive the change, there are always detractors. It might be tempting to ignore them but, they can and will make your job harder. Identify these people early on, take them aside and listen to what they have to say. Sometimes, people just need to have their concerns heard and when they understand, on their own terms, why the change is taking place, they adapt – and rally their fellow detractors to adapt to the change too.
Who are your champions?
Quite often, the messenger is as important as the message being delivered. If a change message comes from a departmental colleague who’s well respected and liked, employees will receive it better than if it’s coming from someone outside that department. Particularly if the department making the change has a reputation for making work harder – as, let’s face it, is often the case with IT.
Typically, there are IT champions in every department. You’ll find your change agents among these champions. They’re usually early adopters of technology who have the respect of team members and will be able to deliver your messaging effectively.
Delegate some of the message delivery to the change agents. Agents should be a diverse group and include executive leadership and individuals on every team affected by the change in addition to champions on your own team. Define who owns what message. Assign broad, big-picture messages to leadership and more tactical messages to respected agents within each department.
How do you spread the word?
Email, video, face-to-face.
The way people receive messages is as varied as the individuals receiving those messages. Keeping the buzz alive requires using multiple communication channels to deliver your message. Consider launching your initiative with a town hall meeting and using internal project websites to keep stakeholders up to date on progress.
As the project evolves, hold smaller meetings for the groups more immediately affected by the change.
Be creative with your delivery formats. Different messaging formats inspire different audiences. Email or memos work great for readers while video and infographics may work better for visual people. Interactive meetings may be appropriate when it’s time to engage end users. Some audiences prefer a town hall style meeting to gain an understanding of an initiative. Offer multiple delivery options to suit your audience needs. Be creative and keep it fun.
When do you tell them?
A good communication strategy follows a timeline. You want to make people aware of the change while also building anticipation. Timing the messaging in intervals gives people a chance see, absorb and respond to the message.
Be transparent. When it’s time for a department to adopt a new technology, make sure they know how much the change will disrupt their work in the short-term so they can plan accordingly.
Determine how frequently to communicate with each audience. General messages are less frequent. When the change reaches a particular department, increase the frequency of the messaging to keep teams informed from day to day so that they stay in the loop and aren’t blindsided by any disruptions.
What needs improvement?
Evaluate each message you deliver to your audiences to determine which messages are effective and which ones fall flat. Continue to tweak your messaging to build on the buzz you created when you launched your initiative.
After your change is complete, follow up with individuals from each department affected by the initiative to learn what worked and what didn’t. An enterprise-wide transformation is bound to require tweaking and configuration as end-users adopt it. If you demonstrate that these tweaks are relatively easy it will ensure long-term adoption of the technology.
As an IT leader who’s lived through all the changes that COVID-19 brought, you know that when people must change and adapt, they will. Now that organizations realize the positive role technology plays in empowering a remote workforce, they’ll continue to adopt these changes more frequently.
When you consider adopting enterprise-wide platforms to ensure a productive remote work force, choose a service partner with the experience to guide you along the way. A good service partner, like Crossfuze, will have a communication plan that you can work from as a template while you build your OCM Communication Strategy.
If you’d like to learn more about how Crossfuze can help you communicate your digital transformation to your organization, reach out at LetsTalk@crossfuze.com.