Employee Communication and Business Transformation
Insights on effective communication during a business/digital transformation are organized and presented by who should deliver the message, what the message should be. Where the message should be kept, how the information is helping the transformation, and when the communication strategy should be implemented in the digital transformation initiative.
Right People for the Right Message
- A financial management company called Sura embarked on a massive business transformation, which included product changes, new sales, and employee evaluation processes and a major digital transformation. One of the insights surrounding the positive effects of employee communication in the change was the concept of "Using the preferred senders to deliver communications,"
- Benchmarking research has shown that employees react most positively when they hear messages from two people in the organization. The first is the sponsor of the change, who needs to make clear the business issues and the reasons for the change. The second is the employee's immediate supervisor to explain the personal impact of the change.
- Following that model, Sura's front line staff quickly became proficient on their new tablets. The company met its regulatory requirements for digitization six months ahead of the competition. At the same time, a 60% increase in employee performance in the areas of adaptability, participation, and consistency was seen.
Communication Training — Content
- Mortgage Guarantee Insurance Company came out of the great recession of 2008, knowing that they were going to be hit by many changes, some from playing catch up and some from impending technological changes. To prepare for this expected tsunami, one of their key communication requirements was to ensure adequate training for the executive sponsors, project managers, change managers on the best ways to communicate.
- The company selected its trainees based on the visibility of the changes they led and their opportunity to immediately apply the training. It was made clear that the company was not adding to their responsibilities in their leadership roles, but were asking them to approach their communication tasks differently.
- The company soon noticed that more messages were including the "why", that communications were more frequent, and new channels of communication other than email were being used. There was a more open dialog between managers, and the practices became embedded in the language and training in the organization.
Assessing Success of Communication
- Crowley Maritime Corporation operates a marine solution, transportation, and logistics company in over seven countries and reports over two billion dollars in annual revenue. Crowley understood that a multi-pronged business transformation strategy, which included acquisitions, new technology, and business goals, would involve a lot of change being imposed on their employees.
- Crowley, therefore, conducted a company-wide awareness campaign about change management. This communication project not only helped supervisors understand their roles but helped employees understand what they should reasonably expect in the form of communication.
- These training exercises began in 2015 and ran through 2017.
- Before they began, the company established a baseline change management maturity score of 1.8. After one year, their score in all five capabilities was 3.0. Even more significantly, employees reported overall satisfaction with the transformation initiative of 88%, compared with 72% the year before.
Integrated Workforce Communications Platform
- In planning enterprise communication strategies, many companies focus on roles and channels — and those items are essential. Equally important, and often overlooked, is ensuring a single authoritative source for information.
- Differing sources can become challenging because employees gossip and get information wrong. They need one place where they can find the actual answer.
- The challenge for the organization is that different communication tools in place in the organization can have different information if not tightly managed. For example, different messages can exist concurrently in Yammer, Slack, emails, and the company intranet.
- A single authoritative source for information, and processes to ensure its accuracy, is the most critical part of effective employee communication.
- Employee end-user data shows that the best transformation communication programs have a 70/30 publishing rate, 70 percent admin posts, and 30 percent employee-generated content.
Communication Strategy First
- In planning a digital transformation, internal communication is the best place to start. Having the infrastructure, communication processes, and resources in place will make it easier for the organization to deal with the issues that will arise in a large transformation project.
- When the organization already has the communication tools installed and the lines of communication mapped out for when teams members have questions, the transformation process becomes easier to manage,
- All kinds of information move through a company, but investing in the right communication tools ensures the information is useful.