Getting your people behind your strategy in 2021 and beyond

 

The way businesses communicate with their people has changed dramatically over the last year – probably for ever.

All organisations need to share their vision of the future with their people. Getting buy in to that vision is often what makes the difference between success and failure.

With so much change and uncertainty resulting from the year we’ve all just been through, the need for clarity of vision and effective internal comms will be greater than ever in 2021and beyond. 

Many organisations and rethinking their strategies and their place in the world now that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Some are already pivoting fast or responding to disruptive forces that were already in play long before anyone had heard the word Covid.

But research shows that around three-quarters of change management strategies fail. It isn’t always obvious to business leaders where they’re missing the mark, but this is often the result of ineffective internal communication.

Clearly communicating your place in the world and why you exist will be vital in keeping your people engaged in what you’re trying to achieve and, more importantly, why you’re doing it, in a world beyond lockdowns. 

So what have we learned about internal comms through the experience of the pandemic? Will organisations learn the hard lessons of 2020 about communicating with remote teams when the world finally settles back into a ‘new normal’ rhythm.

The speed with which businesses have adapted to digital platforms is encouraging, but where do we go from here in terms of employee engagement now that home working is the norm for so many of us?

In this dramatically new context, we’ve been revisiting what we see as the fundamental communication principles to keep employees and leaders engaged with business strategy. What will help drive businesses through the next phase of disruption? And what new ways of working and communicating with employees will be most effective?

Here are 10 ways to ensure you get people behind your strategy in 2021 and beyond:

Talk the right language to the right people. Clarity of message plays a critical role in engaging teams in a vision and uniting them behind it. Be decisive, straightforward and transparent. Understand your different internal audiences and adapt communication patterns and styles accordingly. 

Carry on cascading. Assign clear communication responsibilities and give team leaders the tools they need to cascade key messages effectively, particularly if they’re managing people and teams remotely rather than face to face.

Build internal communities. Seed pertinent conversations and encourage online dialogue between diverse teams to create empathy and shared understanding.

Make it fun. Gamification can be the light touch needed to engage people, as well as gathering useful insights.

Find the right channels. Keep exploring new disruptive channels and platforms alongside the expected. There’s a wealth of new apps and tools to experiment with.

Don’t be scaryHitting the right tone of voice is essential. Be careful with trigger words that can turn off and alienate: ‘transformation’ and ‘innovation’ are powerful words when used in the right context but can also intimidate.

Maintain the dialogueDon't ‘launch and leave’. Keep up the momentum, have a campaign plan and drop key messages at key times to maintain impetus.

Get user generated content. Make the most of the ease of content created by teams on their smartphones to keep conversations alive.

Make it clear and honest. Business strategy is multi-faceted and nuanced, but a well executed, simple and clear comms plan builds understanding. Make sure you address key questions like: What do I have to do? What will success look like now? and What’s in it for me?

Flexibility as standard. Fixing timescales to plans right now is tough. Hard-wire flexibility into your employee comms while supporting the over-arching purpose. 

 

At Thirdperson, we’ve developed a tried and tested approach to help organisations and their senior leaders to communicate more effectively with their internal communities.

We can help build trust in your vision, avoid cynicism among your staff, and bring more clarity to your comms. 

To find out how our experience and the tools we’ve developed help organisations connect with their communities, both internal and external, please get in touch here.