Communicating Change

by Rus Slater

What constitutes ‘change’?

When we talk about ‘change’ at work, we can have a number of different things in mind, such as

  • Procedural change – a new software system or ERP package, a new process for managing our business or a physical move of all or part of the organisation
  • Organisational change – an outsourcing, merger, takeover, acquisition, reorganisation or downsizing
  • A strategic change, either where we change from one industry sector to another or where we want to change the way clients and shareholders perceive us (for example, BT [British Telecommunications plc] went from POTS to PANS – ‘Plain Old Telephony Supplier’ to ‘Pretty And Nice Stuff’ – when they became a strategic supplier, not only of telecoms systems, but also of broadband, mobile, web-space and IT support)
  • A cultural change (for example, when the nationalised utility organisations in the UK became private companies)
  • Apparent or cosmetic change – both the public and private sectors have a strange tendency to think that people are fooled by a change of name and logo.

Finally, there is the type of change that goes with new brooms and new thinking; for example, when a senior decision-maker joins the organisation and there is a sea change in expectations. This is seen in the private sector when a well-known name takes over/joins an organisation, but it also happens in the public sector when there is a change of government. This last category is more an expectation of change, as far as employees are concerned. Any real change that results from a change of leadership or government will probably fall into one of the categories outlined above.