Change. What’s in it for me?

30 June 2020

Digital transformation affects everybody. So, when organizations implement change, there needs to be a “what’s in for me” for everyone. Nobody changes for the sake of change. Change has to be purpose-driven. And the approach to make change happen is to try to understand the obstacles and opportunities to engaging people on change.

“When organizations implement change, there needs to be a ‘what’s in for me’ for everyone.”

The majority of organizations is going through huge changes.

Change is coming rapidly and in many forms. A digital transformation. Or a change in your business strategy. Maybe you want to put more emphasis on your values or ways of working. Or maybe we’re talking about an entire reorganization, shifting to remote working.

That all requires change and a methodology for change communication. And it requires communication on the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. The risk here is that your employees might disconnect because they no longer see where the organization is heading.

In change management, organizational communication is one of the key success factors.

Change communication framework: a 7-step approach.

Change communication: a 7-step framework

  1. How do you define your change approach? How do you understand what the pain points will be when you start driving that change?
  2. Defining the ‘why’ (your storyline).
  3. How and when to communicate your key messages to the relevant audiences.
  4. Planning and execution.
  5. How do you communicate each step?
  6. How do you evaluate each step?
  7. Re-enforcing each of the steps.

Change communication resembles external marketing a lot.

The objective of change communication is to make your employees join you on a specific journey. Which is the same your external marketing tries to do. Only this time with customers.

With external communication, you:

  • set out your campaign goals.
  • define your audiences. Mostly in the form of personas.
  • develop the key messages for each of your personas.
  • make sure to use the right tools to reach your audiences.
  • gather insights to understand the impact of your communication.
  • reiterate and apply the learnings.

Organizational communication and change communication in particular follow a very similar route. And that is exactly what Spencer does as a digital platform.

Change communication should use the same approach as your external communication.

What Spencer does, is:

  • help you to define your audiences and your key messages.
  • help you get the word out.
  • gather analytics and insights.
  • leverage learnings.

So, basically, Spencer brings marketing best practices to internal communication.

Curious about how Spencer can help you make change happen thanks to AI-driven internal communication and habit-driven engagement? Learn all about it here.

Change readiness.

Many change programs are about the tools. Will tools increase productivity? They certainly are not. Productivity is depending on us.

Ways of work. Activity-based working. It’s all about collaboration. But if it’s a cost-cutting exercise, it’s not going to work.

Innovation programs are often about asking for ideas. But that does not get you any ideas. First you need to focus on what the need is for ideas. On the appetite for change.

If we are having innovation programs, then we need to have a desire to implement what comes through. We need to show that there is some kind of process. That they are being evaluated. And that there is an outcome.

What does organizational change mean to your organization?

Conceptual project: building a new death star.

When you’re starting to implement change, there are all kinds of common obstacles:

  • So what? Why are we bothering? There is a huge drive to show value. To explain what the underlying purpose is. If there is a genuine reason, then you will get people behind.
  • It’s a head office thing, it has nothing to do with me. Just let me do my job.
  • These things always fail. There is a credibility issue. Because we always remember the negatives. So, you have to engage with people about why things go wrong.
  • I don’t have time to take part. We need to understand and appreciate people are busy. So, how can this change help with our day job?
  • Oh no, not more change. Can we learn lessons? Can we apply some fresh thinking to convince these changes are good?

Finding stories.

Finding and telling the stories can make change more authentic. So if you’re going to roll out new tools or new ways of working, it is good to uncover the stories and obstacles. And understand e.g. what people actually hate in their day job. That could be emails or meetings. Because this enables you to focus on stories that come out of the organization.

Tapping into authentic stories and helping to create solutions around these, is really key.

How do you do this?

  • Define the goals: choose what’s important.
  • Put your finger on the blockers: embedded work habits getting in the way.
  • Develop strategies you can apply to meet the goals and break down the blockers.
  • Develop the tactics you can apply to meet your goals and break down the blockers.
  • Define your ready-to-go action plan (now – in 3 months – in 6 months).

Key messages.

This is where you’re starting to scale your change.
And this is how you’re getting your messaging right.

  • Talk about the needs and problems before the solutions. Why are we embarking on this?
  • What does it mean to us as people (not users)?
  • What does good look like? Show the light. What do we want to see as an end state?
  • Engage with people to find both the obstacles and the answers. We want to build trust.
  • Pilot changes, provide feedback on what worked, what didn’t.
  • If it’s a technology change, don’t talk about the tech. Show the business context. Why will it help us?
  • Follow-through: we all want to see progress. Dead-ends kill credibility.

“If you want to make change happen, you have to understand the obstacles and opportunities to engaging people on change first.”

Executing your communication plan.

Spencer plays a crucial role in the execution step. The first thing you should do, is try to define what your channel will be for organizational communication. Very often, that communication is distributed via various channels like email or Teams.

Your organizational communication about change, purpose, mission, … is slow-paced. It often comes from the leadership team. If you mix that in with the fast-paced channels where everyone adds to the conversation, you are burying your most important content under the short-term, more urgent content. That means you will never be able to get the impact you are looking for.

With Spencer, you create a dedicated channel to talk about what is most important to the organization.

Spencer does this by combining 2 tactics.

  1. The first one is a whole set of functionalities to drive engagement. By sending the right messages to the right audiences at the right time. And also by listening to them and capturing feedback through pulse surveys and engagement surveys.
  2. A series of functionalities to create habits. So, employees start using your communication platform because it will help them on a day-to-day basis.

The right message.

Spencer brings AI-driven content recommendations based on previous engagement per audience.

  • Adjust the message to your audience to maximize impact
    (their working context, role, function, department, …).
  • Optimize your message so every different audience maximally engages with it.
  • Short vs. long (or detailed attachment).
  • Visually vs. textually.
  • Different tone of voice.

The right audience.

Target your audience, based on any combination of relevant criteria for your organization.

  • Country or region.
  • Department or brand.
  • Site or office.
  • Role or function.
  • Contract type.
  • Previous engagement or feedback.

Communicate frequently.

  • Use both your on- and offline channels.
  • Share regular updates, focus on the impacted audiences at that point.
  • Always refer to the ‘why’.
  • Consolidate your key information in 1 place.

Get insights.

Analyze the traction your messages get. Overall but also per audience.

  • What areas are performing well, what areas are not?
  • Define areas that need more attention and ambassadors who can support you.

Combine quantitative and qualitative.

  • Use the metrics available to understand your change adoption.
  • Ask for feedback using pulse checks and surveys. Adjust your questions and frequency to the relevant audiences.


Optimize the way you communicate to given audiences.

  • Leverage the learnings from previous communications (quantitative and qualitative).
  • Adjust your personas or audiences.
  • Let Spencer make recommendations.

Optimize the time when you communicate to increase impact.