Internal Communications

by Val Lawson

Communicating change

Internal communications are important all the time, but essential when there are any major changes in the business. Misunderstandings and confused messages always spread quickly; planned and controlled internal communications keep everyone in the picture by providing consistent and accurate information.

Typical change scenarios are

  • Restructuring
  • Launch of a new product or service
  • Downsizing
  • Merger or acquisition
  • New legislation
  • The introduction of a new system or process.

Routine information sharing will

  • Help people feel involved and more motivated
  • Make sure people know the true facts
  • Improve staff retention
  • Help when recruiting.

The communications plan

Regular information sharing should be part of an overall business communications plan and could be monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. At times of change, however, you will need a special plan. This should cover communications before, during and after the change. The frequency will depend on the scale of the impact, and the scope and complexity of the change.

When major change situations arise, there should be an overall communications pack with presentations, press releases and so on that have been agreed by senior management. The pack will be part of a plan that includes which materials to use for staff briefings, when and how these briefings will take place and so on.

Note

It’s important to avoid telling people individually about a significant change in the business unless you can isolate them from other members of staff until everyone has heard the news.

Who should be told?

When planning communications related to major change, these should be based on stakeholder and impact analysis. The key is that it should be you (the business management team) who tell people – rather than the gossip at the coffee machine.

For more on this, see The manager’s role in communications and the topic on Communicating Change.