Working on a change project at the moment I have been reminded how important it is not to get carried away with the idea that transformation happens just because you communicate.
For change to happen communications need to:
- Create awareness
- Make sure people understand
- Excite people about the need for and direction of change
- Ensure people know about their individual roles
- Celebrate when the change has been achieved.
Writers also include other things like providing a route map or identifying role models.
However, the crucial thing not to forget is the competence angle.
In order for people to undergo transformation they have to be capable of performing the new tasks or behaviours asked of them.
That means they have to
- Have the tools they need to do the job
- Have the skills required
- Be rewarded in the right ways.
You could probably add a few other things like being part of an organisation that works.
This is fairly obvious the moment you speak to employees facing change. They don't often talk with excitement about the CEO's vision statement or talk in animated tones about the glorious insights in the latest change newsletter. That would all be a bit North Korean wouldn't it?
No, they talk about whether the latest smart idea from head office will actually work. They want to know whether it comes with the right amount of training or whether they'll still be expected to implement it with the same broken equipment that they've been struggling with for years.
I mention this all because I got an email the other day from a journalist asking me if I'd like to take part in a debate about whether IC should sit in the HR or the Comms department. Clearly, I work in a PR company and believe that PR people are masters of the universe who can turn our hands to anything.
My point is that when you start thinking that you can communicate yourself to transformation, you'll end up with beautiful manuals that no one reads, well argued business cases that gather dust and a new configuration of deckchairs on the Titanic.