Strategic communication is integral to generating the energy and buy-in needed for successful change in an organisation. Good communication, focused on people, is a key factor in effective change leadership. Clear, considered and meaningful messages, tailored to the right audiences, are crucial to bringing people along with a strong vision for the future aligned with business priorities. 

Change leadership is active at all levels of the organisation, and when supported with strong communications tools, they can enhance the organisation’s people capabilities in sync with the business strategy and goals. 

Making change initiatives a success

A recent Forbes article highlighted that, according to the CEB Corporate Leadership Council, only one-third of significant change initiatives successfully achieve their objectives. The article cites a Gartner report that, although 74% of leaders claim to involve employees in devising change strategies, only 42% of employees believe they were genuinely included. This points to people’s responses and engagement on a psychological level and underscores the need for authentic communication.

The Bridges Transition Model, a framework that guides organisations through transition, follows three stages — Endings, Transition (Neutral) Zone and New Beginnings. This moves from uncertainty to commitment. For change to happen, emotional resilience must be supported, beginning with compassionate communication.

Communication, communication, communication 

Communication is essential to how change should happen, and should always be centred around awareness of other people’s perspectives. By connecting with the human response to change, organisations open up new opportunities to both embed change and create a culture that is adaptable. Resistance is one of the big challenges in the process, and it’s important to address it through empathetic and authentic communication through change leadership. 

This is true for both internal and external stakeholders. 

As a team of strategic communications advisors, we understand the process of transformation as creating and opening up opportunities to communicate… simply and at the right time. This more collaborative approach serves to bring the bigger picture to life and connect people in their everyday work. 

A compelling story = compelling reason for change

A compelling story is crucial for aligning stakeholders with the reasons for change and the benefits it will bring while addressing pain points. It should always be clear, consistent and repeated for impact. Harvard professors Frances X Frei and Anne Morriss outlined four steps for crafting the story to effect change in organisations: 

1. Understand your story so well that you can describe it in simple terms

2. Honour the past

3. Articulate a persuasive mandate for change

4. Lay out a rigorous and optimistic path forward

Be an environment for change

Fostering an environment for change is dependent on good communication. Psychological safety enables transformational change by fostering an environment that values different ideas and voices, encourages learning from mistakes, and promotes adaptation. Leadership is about change, and emotional intelligence allows organisations to consider how change will affect people, ensuring diverse perspectives are acknowledged (Northouse, 2019). Agility is vital for progress, and the way forward may need to be adapted along the journey.

Our strategic and change communications service

We are communications advisors for change leadership and communications teams, enabling them to effectively engage with their internal and external stakeholders. Please contact me for further information – cathy.riordan@springboardcommunications.ie

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As Senior Client Executive, David works on the execution of Springboard’s strategies, including planning, copywriting and media relations.​ Before joining Springboard, David was a journalist, focusing on political, business and community news.

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info@springboardcommunications.ie
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