Speaker, Author

Business Advisor

Books and Products

Sold in over 12 countries.

Marcia’'s Lastest Book

Whats Coming Up
Learning and
Event Calendar

Archives for the 'Change Communication' Category

How to Leverage Team Briefing to Support Business Goals

  • Wednesday, April 6th,2016
  • Part 2: The reason why I am such a fan of the team briefing process is that the process is driven by the CEO.  Sure you have to facilitate the process but, and this is a very important distinction, it is the CEO who looks at their direct reports – the executive leadership team at […]

    Part 2: The reason why I am such a fan of the team briefing process is that the process is driven by the CEO.  Sure you have to facilitate the process but, and this is a very important distinction, it is the CEO who looks at their direct reports – the executive leadership team at their weekly meeting and says, “These are the 5 key items I want discussed for the corporate update this week”.

    And there it is, the directive from the CEO which is then cascaded throughout the organisation.

    The other reason it works so well is that it is two way, any questions arising from team briefings are fed back up the line to the communications team to follow up for clarification at the next team meeting.

    And in the staff survey in the area on communication, you ask the question whether team briefing occurs on a regular basis.  If there is an overwhelming no, the CEO will see the results.

    Again it is my belief is that process changes behaviour and team briefing reinforces this consistent face to face communication channel and that, together with the fact that it is driven by the CEO ensures means that there is a greater chance of adherence.

    The Team Briefing process comprises of the following:

    • Face to Face – This encourages questions and discussions to ensure that policies, decisions or other information is clearly understood.
    • Two Way – Managers or Team Leaders can receive instant responses from employees on proposed decisions and policies. These responses are then fed back to the appropriate management level.
    • In Teams (4 – 15 people) – This size encourages constructive comments and questions. Each group should be a ‘work group’ which has a common identity so that the information can be targeted to issues that impact on them.
    • Delivered by a Manager or Team Leader – This ensures the credibility of the system and reinforces the role of the Manager or Team Leader as being responsible for the team’s performance.
    • Regular – Team Briefing should be held weekly or fortnightly, with dates, times and venues set at least six months in advance. The duration of the briefing sessions should be between 15 minutes up to a maximum of 30 minutes including time for questions.
    • Relevant – Most information (about 60%) should be spent on local items of relevance to the team. Corporate information (about 40%) if possible, should be given a local emphasis.
    • Open and Honest – A commitment to communicate openly and honestly is essential for team briefing to work effectively as an employee communication tool.
    • Monitored – This is essential to ensure that messages are getting through. It is measured through corporate employee surveys, and by Managers and Team Leaders walking around the work areas regularly and talking informally with employees.

    Credibility with employees will be enhanced if communication of positive and negative news is delivered honestly and responses to questions are candid and given in a timely manner.

    To purchase templates, user guides and instruction guide to implement team briefing click here.

     

    How To Ensure Leaders Communicate With Employees

  • Wednesday, February 3rd,2016
  • Part 1: The main reasons why leaders fail to communicate with employees is really based on two things.  Firstly they need a process to follow that is easy for them to do and secondly it must form part of a routine.  You are really changing their behaviour by constantly repeating a new process.   The […]

    Part 1:

    The main reasons why leaders fail to communicate with employees is really based on two things.  Firstly they need a process to follow that is easy for them to do and secondly it must form part of a routine.  You are really changing their behaviour by constantly repeating a new process.

     

    The easiest way to do this that I know of is to introduce Team Briefing.

    • The Team Briefing process aims to achieve the following objectives:
    • To ensure each employee is aware of how their role fits into the organization.To ensure that information is passed on consistently and accurately to all employees at approximately the same time.
    • To improve the working relationships between employees and their managers or team leaders.

     

    Team Briefing has been used successfully in many organizations as a means to ensure consistent face to face messages in meetings. It encompasses many of the best forms of employee communication. It is face to face, regular and structured, focuses on the team and its Manager/Team Leader and allows for information to be communicated up and down the line.

    It assists staff to respond to the competitive challenge of the business and provides a means of keeping employees up to date with the rapid changes occurring within your organization.

    Consistent Messages

    Team Briefing is a structured system of cascading meetings based on the communication of a core brief. The corporate brief, consisting of corporate and divisional issues, must be communicated at each team brief to ensure that a consistent message across the business is achieved.

     

    Team Briefing is a structured form of two way communication. It is designed to ensure relevant and important business information is passed on and understood quickly throughout your division, from management to front line employees, on a regular and scheduled basis. It also allows information, ideas and questions to be fed back to other Managers within the organizational structure.

    The briefing should comprise of:

    Up to 6 points of Corporate information (contained in the Corporate Brief provided by management).  This is cascaded from the weekly executive meeting.

    Division Brief up to 6 points. This is cascaded from the executive team of the business division your manager belongs to.

    A Local Brief of 6 – 7 points, compiled by the manager, on local information.

    A Question and Answer session and Feedback session.

     

    It is only the third piece, the local brief that changes, everything else remains consistent as it is cascaded from the top of the organization through to an employee’s local team.

     

    In the second part of this series on team briefing I will take you through the key steps to ensure that it is structured correctly to ensure that your key employee communication messages are getting to the right audience and in a timely manner.

     

    How to Leverage Leadership Summits and Get Traction With Change

  • Friday, October 9th,2015
  • Leadership summits, where the top 100 leaders get together over a few days to hear about key achievements and strategy going forward, are a perfect opportunity to get traction with your change plans. I want to illustrate this by using a scenario of what usually happens and the often missed opportunity to achieve momentum in […]

    Leadership summits, where the top 100 leaders get together over a few days to hear about key achievements and strategy going forward, are a perfect opportunity to get traction with your change plans.

    I want to illustrate this by using a scenario of what usually happens and the often missed opportunity to achieve momentum in the organisation and engagement for your change initiatives.
    Let’s use this case study as an example.

    A large UK firm has a leadership summit and 120 leaders have been invited, it is led by the CEO and it’s his prerogative to decide what is and isn’t included. In this instance the CEO has decided that the issue of mental health and workplace stress is going to be the HR topic. You have 3 hours allocated to this session and it is going to include the CEO making a speech on why it is a priority for leaders to focus on. The Health and Safety team then give some real case examples, not including names of employees, and what the indicators are that leaders should be aware of. An activity is planned where leaders discuss symptoms of mental health, issues that could be causing workplace stress and possible solutions. A booklet is distributed to all attendees highlighting options such as wellness programs, counselling, and interventions to deal with what is the root cause of the issue of stress in the workplace and what can be done.
    Everyone leaves feeling better informed than when they started the day and the CEO is pleased with himself that he was progressive enough to raise the issue. Everyone is happy including the H&S team as it has now highlighted mental health as a significant issue and they expect an increased take up of their wellness program.

    What’s wrong with this picture? If the intent was only to create awareness then fine. The lost opportunity here was to leverage the session to get traction outside of the summit and therefore create momentum for this issue. We sometimes assume that leaders can connect the dots and know what to do next, however in most cases they can’t, this is not their core role. Often if you provide guidance on what to do and why you will get the outcomes you are seeking. Here’s what they could have done instead, it just needed a tweak at the end of the session.
    In this case the key is the CEO’s support. Whenever you have this you need to make the most of it whilst the issue is on his radar. Many areas are vying for his attention, you are lucky in many respects to have achieved it. So with this pre requisite the turnkey in this session was for the CEO to ask his leadership team, whilst they are all there, to do something specific and report back to him.

    Process changes behaviour – it is not enough to raises awareness if you want behavioural change. So here we are at this summit and we get to the last half hour of the session.
    The CEO hears what each group has to say about actions that each of the leadership teams acknowledge that they could take with their teams to alleviate stress in the workplace. So now the CEO asks each of them to discuss the issue with their teams and ensure it is cascaded to the frontline for discussion at their team meetings. In addition, and this is the important part, he asks for each to be accountable for the next six weeks, that action plans on this issue are developed and to review the impact on tangible measures such as absenteeism, sick leave and workers compensation claims.

    Each leader is taken through what to do with a detailed activity outline and they are informed that specific activities will be emailed to them immediately post the summit. They are told that HR will monitor and feedback the cumulative actions and outcomes to each business division head. They in turn will discuss with their executive leadership teams and it will be on the agenda for the weekly CEO meeting that will be held in two months.

    What has happened here is that the responsibility has now shifted to the leadership team, it is the role of HR to provide support and solutions, not to do the implementation.
    This is just one example of how you can leverage leadership summits and achieve behavioural change. The role of change communication is about creating momentum for change not just about delivering information and creating awareness.

    No matter what the topic, the next time you have an opportunity for the CEO to support one of your key initiatives ask yourself how you can build something into the session to leverage change and the CEO’s commitment to drive it.

    Change should always be leadership driven, our challenge is to identify the strategy to make this happen.

    Stakeholder Engagement and Communicating Change

  • Wednesday, May 13th,2015
  • The most important step when implementing change in an organisation is to undertake a stakeholder analysis. And particularly when that change will impact the entire organisation it is important to start thinking at the outset like a lobbyist about to visit politicians, you need to be clear about where to focus your efforts, who is […]

    The most important step when implementing change in an organisation is to undertake a stakeholder analysis. And particularly when that change will impact the entire organisation it is important to start thinking at the outset like a lobbyist about to visit politicians, you need to be clear about where to focus your efforts, who is supportive of your area, who is a key influencer of whom, how can you quickly demonstrate the benefits the change will bring?

    If you don’t know the answers to these questions from the outset then your change program is going to take a very long time to get traction, you might implement a new software system for example but few people will think it adds value, so engagement will take a long time to achieve.

    Similarly if you are implementing a new strategy, be this for example performance measurement schemes, or new health and safety initiatives it is important that you get advocates for your change initiatives within the business and from the top. Change for these types of initiatives are only successful when there is a paradigm shift by the business and they see the value of your services and expertise in helping them with their business decisions and managing risk. If it is something that you need to continual to sell as a value add then you have not analysed your stakeholders well. They should be extolling the value of the change to their business counterparts, not you.

    So here are some tips on how to strategise when it comes to which stakeholders to engage and what to do next.

    1. The first step is to analyse stakeholders at the top of the organisation. What are their current views on the value of the services you provide? Who will be willing to run a pilot in their area of the changes that you want to make? How quickly are you able to demonstrate quick wins to sway those who think it is yet another change initiative that will come to pass with little value to the business. You need to know who thinks what before you plan how you will communicate change and what you will say.

    This leads me to the next point which is so often overlooked in organisations when one part of the business is leading change that will impact the rest of the business.

    2. As Peter Drucker has been quoted as saying, “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling him.” Companies need to take a customer perspective to succeed with implementation of change. Take this view when you are communicating change within your organisation. What is it that other business units want to “buy” from your area, what do they think you could do to add value, and then provide the change in those terms, their terms.

    There are a number of reasons why strategic change typically takes 3 – 5 years to get traction within an organisation. Two of the key reasons are failure to undertake a stakeholder analysis and thinking that telling everyone the same thing is going achieve the change in behaviour you are seeking.

    And secondly because typically with service type areas we speak in our technical speak as it pertains to the work that we do. When introducing change we then defer to our language and what we perceive the benefits are to the rest of the organisation. However it always needs to be in language the customer understands and that the value conveyed so that it is meaningful to them, not us.

    Don’t Press Send

  • Monday, July 15th,2013
  • This past week has seen, if true, the worst examples of the use of online communication media. One was allegedly direct emails sent to employees advising them that their job was now redundant. The second was a newsletter from a CEO which started off friendly enough but then ended with the news of pending restructures […]

    This past week has seen, if true, the worst examples of the use of online communication media. One was allegedly direct emails sent to employees advising them that their job was now redundant. The second was a newsletter from a CEO which started off friendly enough but then ended with the news of pending restructures and redundancies. The CEO it was reported later apologised to staff.

    When is online communication acceptable to advise employees of pending change and redundancies? NEVER. And I would expect that everyone reading this would already know that.

    But the issue is not just announcing redundancies online; the ongoing issue is how organisations are ever going to get traction with change strategies with the remaining workforce. Emails, online updates, intranet stories about “productivity improvements” seriously mean absolutely nothing to employees.

    There is only one way to communicate change, to get leaders at all levels to drive the change agenda and ensure that employees can connect the dots from what they do to the new business strategy. That is to design processes that are driven by leaders, linked to the change agenda and bring everyone to the “Aha” moment so that they truly understand the reason why behind change. And importantly you have to be able to say that your change communication can be measured by the impact on business outcomes. If you can’t do that, then as I always say, you are simply communicating information about the changes you are not engaging employees or leaders in the process of change.

    Pending redundancies, restructures, productivity improvements, change of business strategy should come as no surprise to anyone because your change communication approach should always be focussed on business and how what I do as an employee, as a leader or team member, contributes to the current business situation. Do this well then you catch the problem early and can involve everyone in solutions.

    The days of whisking away leaders to decide the new direction and then returning to tell the troops should be well and truly over. If you want change communication to produce outstanding results you design a plan that engages employees. In all my years consulting I can tell you that employees are sitting there, observing the obvious, waiting for the opportunity to tell you exactly what needs to be done to improve process, customer service, product development, competitor advantage, whatever. It is never leaders who have this wealth of information, it is those employees at the coal face who are the untapped resource that most CEO’s for some reason continue to overlook and fail to engage in the process of change.

    Recently I asked you what your greatest challenge was when communicating change. Without exception each response had the lack of ownership by leaders to communicate change as the core issue. Many other issues stem from this and adversely impact change communication strategies. In the coming weeks I will address the common themes, why I think the problem occurs and what you can do differently to achieve the engagement results you are after.

    As always I appreciate your comments and will respond to them here.

    Marcia

    3 examples of the difference between internal and change communication

  • Monday, April 29th,2013
  • If I were to pinpoint the key difference between internal communication and change communication it is that the first informs the latter engages employees. Often I talk about the need to embrace face to face dialogue for communicating change, but it is important to understand that this is more than just team briefings or CEO […]

    If I were to pinpoint the key difference between internal communication and change communication it is that the first informs the latter engages employees. Often I talk about the need to embrace face to face dialogue for communicating change, but it is important to understand that this is more than just team briefings or CEO forums. What I am talking about is the developing a fully thought out activity being very clear about action outcomes and measured by business results. Because it is about doing something as a result of the face to face engagement not about telling employees about a change. And most importantly build into the process how leaders will drive and own the change communication activity. Here are some examples:

    1. The Customer Experience – A managing director who at his weekly executive meetings invites a key customer to discuss the customer experience from their perspective and why they would consider moving to another supplier. It engages everyone around the table to understand that each aspect of what they do, whether it is billing, product, service quality, call centre assistance, and all touch points with that organisation that customer service is the whole experience. You then take that first conversation and define a specific activity and process to be driven throughout the organisation to focus on changing the customer experience. This is instead of just posting an article about why it is important on the intranet.

    2. A program focussed on linking customers with staff in a face to face event and having staff ask the question, what is it that we do now that if we do even better you will always use our services and products. You then take that information and design a program that engages employees in designing and implementing solutions. This empowers employees to own and control the change rather than change being done to them.

    3. Annual results – instead of just posting them on an intranet site or the CEO discussing them at a staff forum or town hall you actually teach employees about how to decide whether to invest in a company. You then turn your attention to your organisation, review the financials together and ask the team to start examining ways to improve the bottomline by growing the business. Then you design an activity that may be six months in duration but is focussed on achievement of business outcomes. Now employees have the opportunity to be clear on improvement activities because the truly understand the reason why.

    Engagement is not about reading or listening, it is about doing. Design a change communication strategy that has processes, actions, activities, reward and recognition, is measured by impact on business outcomes and impacts all levels of the organisation and you get engagement. Design the content for intranets, CEO forums and emails and so on and you get a well informed workforce ready to move forward with the engagement process. The two go hand in hand, you cannot inform without engagement, you cannot engage your workforce without information. Change communication is specific alignment of the two focussed on agreed business outcomes and achievement of business strategy. Most importantly you need to be creative and specific in your design of the change communication activity as it needs to be directly relevant to your organisational culture.

    As always I am interested in your thoughts and experience with change communication strategies you have implemented. Feel free to share them in your comments on this blog.

    Some of Marcia's Clients

    No items.