Internal social media channels are often neglected when creating communication plans; especially as part of change management. That’s too bad as it can be a far more effective tool than traditional hierarchical email blasts.
I’ve made this the focus of much of my social media coaching for some time. I find senior leaders of complex change management projects are eager for new ways to engage their audience and that opens the door for me to introduce some of my favorite techniques.
Social media gives you two great advantages over traditional corporate communication vehicles that follow the hierarchy:
- It breaks the clutter of passed-down distributed emails
- Fosters the two-way and group discussions that elude email communication
WHISPER DOWN THE LANE
One problem with email is that we get so much of it, even messages sent by senior leaders can get lost. I know that I’m now getting more junk mail at work than I get at home and it can be tough during a busy day to catch that message about the latest change in org structure from the top leader.
The other problem with email is that in a hierarchy, the message often first goes to the leadership team, then it is distributed to their leadership team and then to line managers and then finally passed to the masses. This means people across the organization are getting the message at different times and potentially with different spin attached to it.
GIVE EM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
You can mitigate those issues by using social channels and allowing your leaders to speak directly to the rank and file. This is especially effective if you leverage internal communities. Having leadership post important change related communications in the community shows a transparency and an openness that can’t be achieved with email. It also opens the door for conversation, which is critical during change. I like to recommend that messages be posted as announcements on the community landing page and referenced in the microblog. This gives community members two forums to engage with leaders and other members. You just can’t do that with email.
The second technique I recommend is pairing live chats with major announcements. This opens a third avenue for dialog between all levels of the organization. As we’ve done more and more chats, people are opening up and sharing concerns and asking questions that benefit the entire organization. Leaders are now eager to engage the community directly because they can handle questions and concerns in real-time and control the message to everyone with consistency.
The greatest benefit of all might be that by eschewing hierarchical email and using social communication your organization becomes more of a community. And isn’t that an important goal in any change management activity?