Does internal communication support change

How does internal communication support major change?

It is often said the to make major organizational change work and become 'permanent' ~ if such a thing exists ~ whether that is a new emphasis on health and safety in the rail industry, a new approach to quality of service or a merger of two old rivals, a big part of the mix is internal communication.

You must get your message through, secure their support and cooperation or all forms of chaos will ensue...

But how does this support change..?

How can you access and utilise communication across an organisation to shift attitude and behaviour; because that is what we are talking about. Not just about setting up an information flow and creating a dialogue, as a business if change has to be implemented then people get new jobs, different responsibilities, different systems, a change of clothes or labels. If people return to their 'new jobs' after they have been 'told or informed' and carry on as before nothing changes.

Internal communication isn't some warm and fuzzy optional nicety it is the lifeblood of any organisation. If blood of the right quality doesn't circulate at just the right pressure and speed to all parts of the human body, those parts slow down and could stop working altogether. The body could then become sick and die...

Internal communication isn't limited to vision and mission statements from the top; its not just news releases publicising financial results or new product announcements; it is not just internal or client newsletters, annual reports or video streamed messages to the troops. These are all important, but they form just a fraction of the communication and miscommunication that takes place every day in the workplace.

Internal communication is written, spoken and non-verbal nteraction among people in the organisation that get things done. It takes effective internal communication to oil and run the machinery of any organisation. And when that machinery breaks down, as it often will, a great deal of profit can be lost.

People that know better, generally do better. Communication is only effective when people have understood the essence of the message and change their attitude or performance as a result. If the outcome of the communication is resistance or reluctance then it has not been effective communication. Yes we want to keep people informed, motivated and feeling like they are part of a greater whole but... If people return to their 'new jobs' after they have been 'told or informed' and carry on as before nothing changes. And our great change initiative fails.

Aristotle wrote something like this in 350-ish BC. 'if communication is to change behaviour, it has to be based on the desires and interests of the receivers'

So we tune into their way length and demonstrate through our communication the connection between what we want and what they want and something is born inside the heart and minds of most. Our ambition gets a new meaning and a new life... with them

Since the days of Coch and French, who in 1948 wrote an article 'Overcoming Resistance to Change' it has been known that there is a highly beneficial impact of involving people in changes that affect them.

So we use internal communication as a means to involve people not just tell them.

In face to face communication, as apposed to written text, or PowerPoint presentations, the tendency is to use narrative or story telling to get our points across. Story telling has been central to communication throughout history. Stories or narratives are not fables or fairy tales they are the 'case studies' of the conversation that enable the listener to experience and therefore understand. The exchange and calibration of meaning is essential with internal communication and employee engagement. If this is done within the confines of  a relationship built on trust, with colleagues, with direct supervisors and managers. The believe/trust factor increases the likelihood of internalisation and subsequent behaviour change.

So we use team briefings, coffee machine 121's, development sessions, MBWA and promotional initiatives like Notice Boards, Newsletters, Web Video Streams to feed the grapevine. But most importantly we can not rely on the trickle down effect from starting at the top. Just because the CEO stood up at the Kick Off and said his or her piece does not unlike a Star Trek Captain make it so...

So use internal communication to engage front line supervisors to leverage the value of trusted relationships nearest to the bulk of the workforce.

Effective internal communication helps the organisation to meet its objectives. It is the vital link that encourages everyone to deliver on their responsibilities. Communication is not just the language; it involves trust, relationships, control and delegation. It can be used to create transparency within the organisation and through this help in raising the morale and motivation of employees which tends to increases productivity.

What ambitions do you have that would benefit from being born inside the hearts and minds of your members or employees?

Leave a comment...

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