• Heather Dankert

Change Management on a Global Scale: Communications

PR Communications during periods of large, rapid change.

Everyone around the world knows this is a fast-moving pandemic and are willing to give a lot of latitude when it comes to the lack of information.

First we need to understand where our audience is coming from. Here is an article on the 6 Stages of Change. If you haven't already been introduced to these I encourage you to have a quick read through to gain a better understanding of this process.

The 6 stages of change.

1. Pre-contemplation

2. Contemplation

3. Determination

4. Action

5. Maintenance

6. Relapse

Are your communications achieving what you need them to? Do they encourage your audience to "know, like and trust" you?

With the evolving WFH (Work From Home) environment and COVID-19, we are all pushed to accept a massive change in a very short period of time. We were forced to jump from stage one to stage four in the change cycle in a matter of days, with little warning.

Typically, in business evolution, there is a more extended period of preparation where management goes from concept to evaluation, and then on to planning for the roll-out. With COVID-19 there was no real significant planning stage for any organization. We have all gone into crisis mode and are currently trying to figure out how to readjust and make the changes work.

What does this evolution look like beyond the decision-makers and IT teams? It looks like silence. Silence is unnerving. Just ask any parent. Those in a non-decision-making role feel like they are left to hang from a ledge of uncertainty. It is felt not only by employees but by partner services and customers alike.

In this situation, don’t be stingy with the transparency. Let your customer service and salespeople connect with partner services and customers on a personal level. Communicate on your social media to your brand-loyal customers who have made you part of their everyday lives. Everyone around the world knows this is a fast-moving pandemic and are willing to give a lot of latitude when it comes to the lack of information. Just acknowledging people are there is huge and goes along way with their tolerance levels.

The best communication tactic you can use right now is honesty. Communicate what you don’t know, how you are working on it, and when you will update next. Do NOT miss your indicated update deadlines, even if it’s to say that you ran into issues. Be specific of where the hang-up is (general high level), and a quick to the point statement on how you are working on it. It is good to note that people in an emotional “fight or flight” response are only able to absorb small amounts of information.

Here are a few communication examples.

Internal Communication Example:

“We are currently working on <subject> that will allow us to <positive movement.> Unfortunately, <specific issue that is holding things up and how much you understand of it.> The expectation is it will be <solution by stated time>, but honestly, I cannot guarantee this will be the case. I will, however, <type of communication> you all at <date and time> regardless of where we are at that point.”

Customer Service Communication Example:

“Hi <Name Here>,

I hear what you are saying, and I’ll be honest, I’m getting < emotion> too. I do know they are working <insert issue topic>, and I have put a reminder in my calendar to update you <insert date> by the end of the day. If you have any other questions or concerns, send them over, and I will do my absolute best to get you what you need. Thank you for having patience with me and with <company name>!”

Sales Communication with Long-Term Client Example:

“I literally have no news right now. I know it completely sucks. I am extremely frustrated as well. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. As soon as I get something, I’ll let you know.”

Using corporate language can sometimes come across as insincere and like something is being hidden. Use “clean” conversational language. It portrays honestly and indicates to the recipient that they are relevant and important.

So, to recap:

1. Communicate often

2. Update when you say you will, regardless of content

3. Be transparent and honest

4. Use conversational language over corporate-speak

5. Acknowledging people’s existence when they reach out goes a long way towards goodwill

6. People in “fight or flight” mode can only absorb smaller amounts of information

I can help guide you through your change management and communications. Contact me at Dankert Consultancy via dankert.ca