Transforming the business can require serious mobilization and investment in change programs. Communicating about the change internally with employees and with the relevant external stakeholders is an ongoing activity, typically driven through a communication plan. Internal communications for large transformation initiatives can benefit from internal marketing to manage expectations, engage effectively with “internal customers”, motivate end-users towards proactive participation and solution adoption.
Internal marketing of change initiatives, such as PLM and other transformation programs, is integral to activities supporting customer satisfaction. Internal marketing does not only relate to a corporate function; it must remain simple and straightforward in delivering key messages, rather than becoming a “hard sale” or a caricature of the change itself.
In this post, I elaborate on the rationale for internal marketing with PLM transformation initiatives, considering related activities, typical artefacts and deliverables to make the change successful.
Successfully implementing change requires more than an effective communication plan and a robust solution, covering data, process, education and technical perspectives. It also requires to influence people in new ways to align mind-sets and behaviours to the change—leveraging ‘internal marketing’ techniques to foster understanding and conviction.
“A communication plan typically includes (…) clear, concise, consistent, convincing and compelling PLM transformation branding.”(virtual+digital, 2015)
Based on the context, there are multiple ways to motivate people; it also links to culture. Depending on the scope and implications of the change, winning hearts and minds of the business typically includes a combination of:
- Creating a recognizable change program identity
- Appointing change ambassadors as role models
Creating a recognizable change program identity
Learning to change requires more than “learning about the change”; it relies on education and learning by doing as the change gets implemented, from design to validation and transition to the new way of working. It is important to understand what is being asked of someone, ensuring that it makes sense and relates to how one role operates versus what will need to change to make it more relevant, effective and efficient.
Personalized communication by function or role might be useful, but it is also critical to use different communication channels in a consistent and recognizable way among other internal marketing initiatives. Using branding to communicate internal change can help create a recognizable visual identity to build the relevant awareness. It is also important that such ‘internal branding’ aligns to company marketing standards and foster engagement in a professional and trustworthy way.
Finding the right balance between creating a meaningful consistent identity and getting attention is key. Understanding communication channels is essential when creating an internal brand; it must be easy to relate to and use positive language with adapted clear and simple visuals.
It will obviously depend on how an organization operates and communicates overall, including verbal tone that feels real. It might also help to remain humble and open for feedback when facing uncertainties (as self-imposed propaganda appearing too evangelistic might cause the reverse effect by setting people back).
Appointing change ambassadors as role models
Involving (and converting detractors into) supporters is important to foster the change from the inside-out, as well as from the outside-in. Leaders must be willing to become actual role models themselves, beyond “governing” the change from the boardroom or steering committee. They must continuously engage in clarifying messages and getting the relevant level of business support.
For example, change leads must start to behave differently in defining and validating new governance and modus operandi as the change gets developed and implemented—so that they become true internal ‘brand ambassadors’ when it comes to promoting the change. They do not only represent the voice of the customers, but the change agents to whom others will look up when it comes to learning new skills and behaviors.
People get motivated from different things based on their role and experience; it is important to have brand ambassadors at various seniority levels and roles to represent multiple personas across the enterprise.
Internal marketing (or the lack of) can make or break change initiatives; this is especially true for PLM transformations which require significant learning and complex transitions. Choosing the right level of communication at different times of the implementation is essential. Appointing the right ‘brand ambassador’ insiders at the right time is equally important to ensure things are done right first time, while maintaining clear lines of communication throughout.
What are your thoughts?
This post was originally published on Momentum-PLM on 15 December 2020.
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