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Enhancing the ability to change through communication

Published on 04.12.2019 | Translations available in: German

Enhancing the ability to change through communication

Change is everywhere – and with digitalization, its speed has increased even more. Companies that want to be successful in the market in the long term, face transformation. With targeted communication, they can strengthen their ability to change. An open dialogue, positive corporate culture and coaching and consulting are key to enabling employees to not only accept change, but also to drive it forward.

"The purest form of madness is to leave everything as it is and to hope that something will change": That was already recognized by Albert Einstein. Companies that do not actively deal with change – for example in the market, but also in society – miss opportunities and trends and ultimately endanger their entrepreneurial success. But how does an entrepreneur make her or his company fit for change?

Companies can actively support and drive the change process with targeted communication measures. Central to this endeavor are:

  • Target-group-specific communication via internal channels
  • Active involvement of affected departments and employees
  • Strengthening a corporate culture that sees change as an opportunity
  • Offer coaching and consulting for executives

Getting into dialogue with employees – strengthening the willingness to change

Not everyone is equally excited about change. There is a tendency to observe, that long-term employees are generally less open to change than people who have only recently joined the company – the longer you have worked in the same company, the greater is the risk of lapse into routine or operational blindness. In order to tackle change together as a team, it is important to seek dialogue and to know the willingness to change and the needs of the employees.

Using internal channels and involving employees actively

With targeted internal communication measures, a company can significantly support the change process. Change, transformation, transition – however you like to call it – can be discussed and dealt with in a target-group-oriented way on the various internal communication channels. For example, on a CEO blog or with tips and tricks for change management on the intranet, at events for employees, with workshops or focus groups within the departments – employees are thus simultaneously informed and integrated into the process.

This involvement creates trust – and those who have trust work more motivated, perform more efficiently and actively help to drive the change process forward. Through dialogue, companies can also identify concerns and fears among their employees at an early stage and react accordingly.

A distinctive culture strengthens the ability to change and enables transformation

A distinctive corporate culture combined with a high capability of reflection strengthens the ability to change within the company. A corporate culture with a clear, comprehensible vision provides employees with support and orientation through the values they live by. This creates confidence, reduces fear and strengthens the trust of individuals in themselves and the organization. This is especially essential in the phase in which change is announced. Even if the goal and the core messages are communicated to the employees in a trust-building way, an initial skepticism, frustration and a lack of understanding must be reckoned with – factors whose risks can be minimized by a solid basic trust.

Therefore, the focus lies clearly on the employees: they are the ones who pave the way for the future, acquire new skills and grow. Here, reflection is essential as part of the corporate culture; this means that in addition to their operational activities, employees also need space to take a break, analyze success or failure, openly address weaknesses and discuss them. The learning process triggered by reflection not only advances each individual, but also the company as a whole. If the employees know in which direction they should develop personally and with the company, the goal can be achieved together.

Competence to change – can we tackle change?

A company should always actively address the responsibilities and skills that change demands of employees and the management. People in leading positions in particular, bear a great deal of responsibility in the change process. It is essential to live a positive attitude towards change; in everyday operations and during exchanges with employees in meetings or individual discussions.

Special attention is therefore always paid to managers. In order to strengthen their communication skills, it is worthwhile to involve an external partner with a critical outside view. This partner can support the management with targeted coaching and tailor-made advice in communication and change management, and show them valuable tools for dealing with their employees. In this way, managers gain appearance and communication skills, can effectively communicate their message, prepare themselves for potential (unpleasant) questions and receive support along the entire range of internal and external communication measures.

Willingness, competence and opportunity: essential to change

The communication measures and cultural strengthening described here are aimed at strengthening a company's ability to change. According to von Kyaw (2010), this ability to change has three dimensions: willingness to change, competence to change and the opportunity to change: In order to strengthen the willingness to change, dialogue and the involvement of employees in the transformation process are crucial. By providing managers and employees with tools with which they can tackle change, a company increases the change competence – of the individual, but also of the company itself. A strong corporate culture in which change has a positive influence gives employees the opportunity to drive change themselves. Only when a company takes into account and promotes all three dimensions, does this lead to positive change.

Cited source: Von Kyaw F. (2010). Organisatorische Veränderungsfähigkeit, in: OrganisationsEntwicklung, Nr. 03/2010.

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