Author Archives: tenekapolite

Change management and communications consultant

Making the Most of Internal Communications


 

Most companies are operating in fragile economies, under increasing price pressures, with employees who are still concerned about the stability of their professional futures. This environment makes the development and execution of an effective internal communications strategy more critical than ever. Without clear communications and a well-designed strategy, uninformed employees can easily become misguided, developing their own (often inaccurate) rumors and ideas about the state of the business.

Unfortunately, internal communications strategies can be seen as a ‘nice to have’, and they are often the first exclusions from budgets. However, having a strong internal communications strategy does not have to be difficult or expensive. In fact, many communications strategies are surprisingly simple and don’t require much resource at all.

Below is an example of an internal communications plan that we developed for the roll out of a new process management tool.

There are three main ways to ensure successful internal communications:

Understand your audience: segmenting your audience is the cornerstone of any effective communications plan. It is crucial you clarify your objectives and understand how you want your employees to react. It is easy to forget communications can be interpreted differently by different groups, so consider how to tailor your communications without diluting your message.

Ensure your leaders are visible: understanding how you want your staff to change is one thing; sustaining that change is another. In times of change, people look to their leaders for guidance, so ensure those driving the change are a clearly visible part of any communications strategy. Developing two-way communication between employees and senior management about the future strategy can also facilitate engagement and motivation.

Plan for success: you can’t prepare for everything, but it helps to have a flexible plan. Set expectations upfront about the timeline for communications and what your employees can expect when. Sustained communications will increase credibility of messages and help avoid knee-jerk reactions to anything unexpected.

And most importantly keep your messages clear and consistent.

– Teneka Polite, Change Management Consultant
PA Consulting Group

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Managing Change Means Managing Reality


August is a time when the pace of a change program inevitably slows. Those with the responsibility for delivering business change can find it frustrating, but it can be reframed as an opportunity to step back and reflect on how things are going. 

Managing change means managing reality, not just a program plan – changes in human behavior cannot be monitored against a Gantt chart and people risks are rarely mitigated by a project office. When you are immersed in the day-to-day world of the program, it is all too easy to lose touch with organizational reality. Holiday time offers an ideal opportunity to consider the progress of your change program with a more dispassionate eye. What is stopping you from taking that same step back while you are in the here and now? How do you know whether your change program is making the intended difference to your organization?

A global pharmaceutical firm has needed to transform the way in which the organization interacted with customers. Members of the program team sensed that there were challenges with how change management activities were being managed – for example, that leadership was not on board because decisions were not being made effectively, and there was too much focus on technology aspects without thinking through how people needed to change as well. By taking the time to consider the change management approach, the team was able to appreciate the strengths of their program and identify what was actually going right, giving them confidence that they were heading in the right direction.

In addition, the team was able to understand the issues that they had been sensing for a long time, and identify some ideas for how these issues could be overcome. This in turn, assisted in building a case for investing more resource in the program. 

We offer a quick way to ‘temperature check’ the current reality of your change program using a change program assessment report that offers:

  • a full review, benchmarked against a proven change framework
  • an independent view of the reality you are experiencing
  • the confidence to make the right decisions.

Below is an example of an output from a section of our Change Assessment report measuring managers’ perception of the overall change management plan and approach:

By reviewing your change imperative profile, considering the balance of emphasis between driving and releasing change and identifying the strengths of your change program as well as the interventions that can close specific change gaps, you can quickly see whether your change program is heading in the right direction.

Teneka Polite (original posting, Nikki Keene) PA Consulting Group

Finding Value in Stakeholder Resistance


At the mere mention of phrases like organizational ‘change’, ‘improvement’ or ‘redesign’ stakeholders immediately begin conjuring up reasons why the change won’t work, can’t work. The prospect of undergoing significant change presents itself like an unknown abyss, leaving stakeholders wondering “how”, “when”, and “where” the company, and most importantly, they will be affected.

Although some stakeholders immediately recognize the need for change, even the most progressive stakeholders may fear and resist change. It is a completely natural instinct to avoid jumping from a cliff blindly; not knowing what is on the other side. The key to helping your stakeholders make the jump is to understand and directly address the source of their trepidation and develop a clear plan forward.

Points of Stakeholder Resistance

Resistance to change is often misunderstood as being directly tied to the proposed change itself. However, there are a number of variables impacting stakeholders, from a standpoint of both personal transition as well as business transformation. These variables can influence their willingness, ability and commitment to change. Below are some of the top reasons that stakeholders might resist change (in no particular order).

 The top 10 reasons stakeholders might resist change:

So, where’s the value?

Key stakeholders have a valuable perspective on your organization and may be privy to certain characteristics of the business that leadership has overlooked or underestimated. Stakeholders also have certain levels of power and influence over their peers. Understanding and addressing stakeholders’ key points of resistance will improve the likelihood of program success in two major ways: 1) Through improved understanding of the business, including additional nuances, risks and opportunities 2) Through the stakeholders’ ability to influence buy-in and commitment across the organization.

 How can you determine the key sources of stakeholder resistance? The first step is collecting perspectives and view points in a ‘safe’ environment such as focus groups, one-on-one interviews and/or anonymous assessments/surveys. A well-structured change readiness assessment will help leaders understand the ‘mood’ of stakeholders prior to and during an organizational change program. We use a proven and highly regarded change readiness assessment that evaluates the key factors below:

It’s your turn

 What tools do you use to determine your stakeholders’ readiness to change? How do you address their key points of resistance?

 Teneka Polite, Change Management Consultant

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