Perhaps the only thing more daunting than changing the culture of your organization is communicating about it. Yet, this is the area most vital to instilling that new culture among employees, and it’s the area where many companies—even great ones—fail.
Consider three important questions when rolling out a new branding framework or a company-wide initiative that affects culture:
- Why is this so important?
- Who needs to know about it?
- How should we reach them?
When communicating why the change is important, make it clear, relevant and engaging.
- Clear: So people know exactly what’s changing and what it means for the company.
- Relevant: In addition to what cultural change means for the company, people want to know what it means for them personally. That means different messages for employees vs. vendors vs. customers.
- Engaging: People pay more attention to messages that are unique, fun and stand out from the slew of other company-wide emails and announcements.
In considering who needs to know about it, brainstorm both internal and external audiences to ensure you don’t overlook anyone. A change in your culture impacts not only your own employees, but your customers, business partners and investors as well.
Based on the list of audiences you develop, create a specific communications plan that lists the best tactics for how to reach each audience. Keep in mind, you will likely not communicate with board members the same way you do with customers, and vice versa. Here are some tips to remember across all audiences.
- Consider a variety of tactics: Changing a culture is a huge undertaking. It merits more than a single email or news release. Instead, layer multiple waves of communications together as part of your plan, especially during its early stages, so audiences get used to seeing key messages about your new culture.
- Detail an exact timeline: In the heat of the moment, it helps to have specific meeting times or “hit-send-now” times written out on paper. You’ll be trying to communicate with many different audiences in a short period of time, and you want the execution to be as seamless as possible. A timeline also helps you keep track of which audiences know what at any given moment. Your board, for example, will likely be more deeply informed than employees at the outset.
- Make it visual: People can only read so many different announcements about your culture before they glaze over. By adding images or developing a visual campaign that captures the spirit of your new culture, you make it feel real and keep it interesting.
- Keep it consistent: Without consistent messaging, your new culture can come across as a disorganized mess or a passing fancy. You want people to see the same messages, in many different formats, over time. This strategy goes beyond simply communicating your culture—it plays an active role in demonstrating it and building it.
- Embed it for the long-term: Make it clear from the beginning that this effort has the full authority and support of company leadership behind it. This change is here to stay! Given that, don’t let communications lag after only a month. It’s smart to plan an extended campaign, often through the first year or two of transition, which works to keep the new culture top of mind for employees and other key audiences.
Happy Culture Shifting!