How To Improve Internal Communication During Organizational Turmoil

BY Kathy Crosett
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If there’s one kind of organizational event that is likely to create turmoil, it’s news of an impending ownership change. At these times, internal communication matters. And the way you interact with your team members will impact the bottom line.

The Importance of Internal Communication

Change of any kind captures employee attention. When employees depart or are hired, your team members want to know what’s happening.

Who can blame them? These kinds of changes introduce uncertainty into their daily lives.

With personnel shifts, they’ll be wondering if and how their jobs might change. They also expect to be informed about whether their office location might be moved. And additions to or subtractions from PTO or other benefits also get people talking.

Employees will not wait to hear from leadership once they hear a rumor of change. They’ll gossip and fill in the information blanks with their own worries and fears. Significant numbers of employees already distrust leadership, which results in lower engagement and loyalty.

That’s why leaders should communicate any kind of anticipated changes to team members as soon as the information is available.

Communication Format

The communication format also matters when you need to inform your team members of impending change.

In larger organizations, employee turnover may be noted through the internal messaging system. The appropriate department head may make these announcements and encourage team members to interact directly with departing or new employees.

For announcements that have companywide implications, such as a product launch, leaders should employ a bigger communication platform. Gathering staff members into a large meeting space in person, indicates the importance of your message. Don’t disappoint your audience.

Multimedia presentations that include video clips or slides on a large screen make an impression. Leaders who prepare their presentations and put thought into what they say can strengthen team commitment.

You may not be prepared to answer every question. But being truthful and transparent during times of change will increase your credibility. Give your employees as much information as you can.

As Sean Devlin reports, two-​way communications help employees feel they have a voice in any upcoming changes.

Managing Uncertainty

One of the most difficult internal communication challenges occurs when there’s organizational uncertainty. Employees generally know whether a new product is doing well.

When things aren’t going well, employees notice. They track and gossip about which external people the big bosses are meeting and what it means in terms of a merger.

Nobody can blame employees for keeping an eye on their future. With reported layoffs happening at what seems like a moment’s notice, they can’t afford to be caught unprepared. They want to know if they are about to be stack-​ranked out the door.

Unfortunately, managers don’t always know what to say to team members when there is a pending layoff. Company leaders may have told them to keep information private. 

But communication is exactly what’s needed at this point. Once the leadership team has made a key decision, they should inform managers. And managers should give their team members regular updates.

One-​on-​One and Ongoing Updates

Messaging during organizational change can stir strong emotions in employees. In fact, at any point, a leader’s words and actions can impact 75% of an employee’s performance, reports Jonathan Raymond.

Depending on the interpersonal relationship, managers may need only a few minutes to discuss organizational changes with some team members. Other team members will require longer meetings with their manager. In these situations, managers need their best people to stay focused, and they can help ensure commitment by communicating clearly.

Managers should also realize that regular internal communication is a must during times of organizational upheaval. Employees may not take in all the details announced in an initial meeting. Ongoing updates provide reassurance and reduce misunderstandings.

Photo by Marcelo Dias on Pexels.