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Internal Communication, a key factor in managing organizational change

By Natalia Gutenmajer de Buenos Aires city, Argentina,

Text translated by Lucila Agustina Norry, Buenos Aires City, Argentina.

 

Nowadays, communication in organizations is less and less a poster or the Intranet and it increasingly implies more consolidating an own culture where the common denominator is the change. Here, there are some considerations which make a transformation process successful.

Today´s world of businesses is subject to the rules of the universe: dynamism, variability, mutation, speed. And this situation requires new professional skills and abilities from us. At the same time, there must not only be an appropriate adaptation to the environment but also traditional organization paradigms have to be modified for generating genuine changes.  In this context, communication acquires a new dimension: it becomes a contribution to manage complexity.

Any change entails fear, uncertainty, risk and distress, among other feelings. This is the situation which makes the internal communication play the main role.

Processes of deep organizational change which affect technology, processes, structure, strategy and, naturally, people require the need of implementing a series of actions focused on promoting a sense of community and taking all people involved on board of the same ship.

Why does communication result in a key element? Because communication is persuasion.  And the success of a change process requires more of conquest, seduction, orientation and less of governance. We find in internal communication our strategic partner to achieve goals such as commitment, enlistment, facilitation and promotion of a favorable climate for change.

In this article, I would like to share with you a series of aspects to be considered by any communicator, not only to lead a transforming project but also to manage daily affairs of the organizations where the only constant element is the change:

  • The role of leaders as agents of the change is the backbone of any company. Their “sponsorship” is essential in this type of processes which implies the acceptance of new rules, new ways of doing things and that’s why the imitative effect is so important.
  • Meeting the audiences’ needs:  in any process of change, there are different audiences affected. The consequences of the process are different for each audience and, therefore, the actions should be adapted to meet each need. Full spectrum should be considered, ranging from employees and suppliers to customers, shareholders, competitors and the community.
  • Mapping out: it is important to count on a communication plan which accompanies each step of the project. It is also advisable, if the plan is too ambitious and/or extends in time, to break it down in moments and capitalize on them, from the communication viewpoint, as milestones within the master work plan. For preparing the plan, I suggest working together with those who lead it from the origins of the project. In this way, we can have access to first-hand information about the change: effects on structure, roles, processes, etc.
  • Small changes, big effects: beyond the actual changes, it is important to assess the level of their impact from the viewpoint of communication. Sometimes, as small as a change may seem, it has enormous consequences to the extent of undermining the image of the organization.
  • Doing Research: On many occasions, the speed of these processes prevents us from concentrating on stages which are important for the development of an assertive and successful communication strategy. This research stage is central as it allows checking the viability of the change on targeted audiences. Knowing the perceptions on which we seek to modify, the current condition and its comparison to the future condition are essential raw material for a successful plan.
  • Less media, more face-to-face communication: in large and geographically scattered organizations, internal means of communication are necessary to shorten distances and reach large audiences. However, my experience tells me that, in this kind of processes, we are more effective when we allow a less means-influenced kind of communication, focused on face-to-face communication. There is no kind of means which can replace an in-person communication.
  • Say less, listen to more: at the beginning, we said that these processes involve fear, distress, uneasiness. For this, I believe in doubling the bet to get an active listening. Sometimes, there is not much to say, but taking time to listen to does not only generate empathy and encourage participation but it is also a message itself of showing interest in people.
  • Monitoring: a continuous monitoring of the communication plan which allows taking corrective actions according to the evolution of the Project.
  • Less is more: these kinds of processes are quite complex. That is why we suggest formulating clear, simple and mainly sincere messages, which generate a climate of trust.

Any process of change involves a part that we do not see, that is why I like to imagine it as an uniceberg, where the hidden part, covered by water, is the one that is the most difficult to access and has to do with people’s reactions to the threat of change. Therefore, as we seek to mobilize, I believe it is clarifying to bring the concept created by Joan Costa: “Communication is action”, which confirms the strategic role of the communication in managing the change, as sense generator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translator’s profile:

Lucila Agustina Norry es Traductora Pública en idioma inglés egresada de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Se dedica a la capacitación en idioma inglés de negocios y con objetivos específicos, principalmente inglés técnico, económico y legal, tanto en instituciones públicas (BCRA, CNV, Aerolíneas Argentinas) como en empresas privadas de primera línea. Brinda servicios de traducción en los pares de idiomas inglés <>español de documentos Comerciales (Contratos, actas, minutas, informes, estados contables), documentos legales (demandas, sentencias, escritos judiciales), documentos Públicos (Certificados, Diplomas, C.V.), documentos técnicos (manuales, informes técnicos) y sitios web.

 

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