Superhero change communications

…or how to humanise change communications & improve accountability

If you’re a Programme Director or Change Lead working on a change programme or project in a large company, it’s often tempting to have all project communication sent out by the most senior person in the organisation.

Your project is SUPER important!After all, your project is SUPER important, so we need to make sure everyone listens.

Well, that’s true to some extent: having your key sponsor launch a project face to face in a town hall or on a roadshow can have impact and shows staff that it is a priority. However once that’s done, the next most important thing to do in my opinion is to introduce the people who are working on the change project.

It’s a pretty sad indictment on the culture of your organisation if you can’t get people to take basic action such as verifying data without someone from the management board asking them to do it.

Here are my tips for better Change Communications:

Tip #1

Put a “Who’s Who?” page on your intranet linked to your project page. Staff need to know who is involved; and project teams and change teams need to be accountable.

TIP #2

Ask your senior sponsor to launch the project and introduce the change leads and/or project leads (depending on how your project is structured). That shows people that the project team have the mandate to proceed.

TIP #3

Don’t let the senior person send out emails asking people to check data, tell people when things are going live, or that are of a very routine nature. Instead let those communications have the name of your project manager at the bottom.


Because it stops your project becoming faceless, and keeps the conversations real. It lets staff see that there is a real person at the heart of the project.

This can also prevent poor information flow becoming a risk to your project because people can communicate back to the right people.

TIP #4

Make use of the “reply-to” feature in your email sending tool (I recommend Poppulo, Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor). It lets you specify where the replies go when the recipient hits REPLY in their email client.

Replies should go to the person whose name is at the bottom of the message. That makes the communication more human and makes them more accountable for what they are asking people to do.

Tip #5

Having your senior stakeholder thank the project team can be a nice touch and lets the project sponsor be seen to be involved with the successful launch.


Andrew Hesselden helps organisations breathe new life into change programmes large and small.  Get in touch for a free chat about how he can help improve your internal communications.

Andrew founded Coralfish and works with associate Sarah Browning to offer icChannelCheck, an internal communications audit product designed to analyse how your channels are serving you. Using focus groups and analysing data, we help understand what the “word on the street” is about your change projects.

Working under the radar? Or herding cats? Life as an Internal Communicator inside and outside of Group IC

I’ve worked in Internal Communications in many companies on both sides of the divide; both inside and outside the central Group Internal Communications function.

Despite us all being professionals with similar training and approach, I’m always amazed at how difficult it can sometimes feel when you are a communicator embedded in the business and you need to work with people in the central Group Internal Comms function. I’m sure many interims or change communications people will relate to the need to work “under-the-radar” at times.

But then there are just as many occasions, when I’ve worked in the central team, and I’ve often thought it is hard to keep change- or departmental-communications people on-brand, on message and in alignment with the overall employee communications strategy. Rather like herding cats in terms of maintaining some semblance of unity.

So why is this? After all, aren’t we all trying to do the same thing?

It turns out not to be that simple. But why?

Inside Group IC

Well, if you’re inside the Group Internal Communications team, then the chances are you are interested primarily in overall Employee Engagement; interested in what staff think & feel about the company as a whole. To that end you probably want to reduce noise, reduce the number of departmental newsletters and reduce the amount of email traffic to employees, so that it creates a quieter environment for the core strategic business narrative to shine through.

When I’m working in a central function as a business partner or managing a channel like an intranet, I’m often looking for ways to make information feel more manageable for staff.

In the wilds of Change

But if you’re working in a Change Comms role, you’re interested first and foremost in making sure people “know something” or “do something”.

Sometimes the project team will want you to replay every last detail of the project, but your skill as a communicator will be to get down to the nitty-gritty of what people need to know.

So you would communicate, then measure the impact and re-communicate as often as necessary until  you’re reasonably sure that all the people affected know what you need them to know.

Only then can you tell your project team that it’s safe to go-live with a big change.

Working happily together?

So how can Group IC and embedded, functional or change communications work better together?

  1. Trust – remember that we are all professional communicators and it is in our interests to package information in a concise manner that is easy for the reader to digest. It’s also not in our interests to cause “traffic accidents” by putting all the messages out at the same time, but it is sometime unavoidable.
  2. Understanding – talk about our objectives and recognise the differences, recognising we all have an important role. Recognise that each side may have difficult internal stakeholders and be aware that sometimes we need to compromise to meet the business demands in the time available.
  3. Sort out your channels – make sure that the company’s editorial calendar is not chock-full of activities so that there is room and resource to handle the operational, day to day and change related messaging that the business needs.

What do you think?

Can you relate to this?  What are your secrets for keeping a healthy working relationship with communicators throughout the business?

Drop your thoughts in the comments or email me.


Using Instagram to Attract & Engage staff


Is your business on Instagram? Maybe…. but are you using it to recruit yet?

With over 500 million active users each month, it’s very likely that many of your current staff are on Instagram. There’s a good chance the talent you want to attract is too.

So why aren’t you using it as part of your Employer Brand Strategy?

Continue reading “Using Instagram to Attract & Engage staff”

Why you might be getting in a muddle with your internal comms metrics

In any line of work, the ability to measure the impact of what you are doing is important to achieving success. After all, how will you know whether or not you’ve been successful if you can’t measure it?  As internal communications people, we are usually very keen on measurement.

Herein lies the  trap for internal communicators…

Continue reading “Why you might be getting in a muddle with your internal comms metrics”