For information about Richard Bevan's Changemaking please visit www.changestart.com. You will also find free resources, including a 17-page toolkit on Making Meetings Work.

Communication is more than words: it can be an action, a gesture, a conversation, silence—or a picture

Communication planning and execution

Everyone has something to say about the communication process. Tap into that energy and creativity.

 

The goal is to get broad input and help, but avoid getting swamped by conflicting guidance.

 

We take a high-involvement approach to communication planning. An effective team has a diverse group of people who collectively have the knowledge, resources and perspective to do an effective planning job. They‘ll also be able to ensure that those plans translate into execution.

 

Enlist people from key constituencies, including line management. Reach out to individuals who can identify and enroll needed internal resources, including the intranet and other organizational communication programs and processes. Bring in development and training staff who can assist in developing programs and processes for training supervisors and others. In a merger, ensure that both parties are involved in the process. Involve IT if you see a need for systems support. Corporate communication (including external affairs) and human resources will often be playing major roles.

 

A major challenge in this process is integrating multiple inputs from many reviewers. These will likely include team members, but may also include many others, including senior management and the legal department. The review process will go more smoothly if timing and expectations are clearly defined in advance, including scheduling of drafts and expected turn-around for reviews. Agree on who determines how conflicting input is resolved. And make sure that authority for final sign-off is clear.

Integrating cultures

 

In a recent merger, an early step was to identify cultural issues that could present challenges to the integration process.

 

In two intensive sessions (supplemented by additional research) the team completed a stakeholder analysis as the platform for developing communication strategy and plans. Two further meetings provided the forum for confirming goals, developing key messages, and building a framework for action. The strategytested, reviewed and amended through interaction with a broader review groupwas then expanded into a detailed set of operational plans.

 

These implementation plans covered target audiences, key messages, media, development responsibilities, resources and schedule. Media included management presentations, small-group meetings with key leaders, work-group meetings, internal publications, an internal website focused on the merger, training and support material for first-level supervisors and a variety of other programs and processes.

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