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Authentic Communication: The Catalyst for Culture Change

Matt Hopgood Francesca Sorrentino
Matt Hopgood Francesca Sorrentino
This article is part 2 of a 2 part series. Read rest of the articles here.

Many global industries are quickly pivoting towards a digital future – one that will change how they operate internally to modernize products and services offered to customers. It will also change the way people work alongside technology, giving rise to new workforce capabilities and a growing demand for transformation to support new skillsets and agile ways of thinking.

COVID-19 has magnified the need for rapid innovation as businesses are acclimating to the rise of remote work in the wake of travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders. Research from Gartner also suggests that remote work may end up becoming more prevalent, with 74 percent of CFOs across industries expressing intent to shift some positions to remote work permanently.

With changes to the workforce coming more swiftly than ever, organizations must look to adapt quickly, while creating a company culture that’s receptive to change. In the first article in this series, we discussed the importance of understanding company culture and values as companies move towards a digital future. Now, we’ll take a closer look at how organizations can create momentum for change in a way that’s authentic and accessible to employees.

A Catalyst for Change  

When you look at enterprise organizations, culture can mean a lot of different things to different stakeholders, risking initial misalignment that can convolute the transformation process. Different executives may not be as invested as others, or understand true business impacts at first. Involving all members of leadership in transformation projects early on in the process can help unite the workforce under one shared goal – becoming a truly digital organization.

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Amy Onorato

“Successful leaders and role models don’t just communicate change efforts – they strive to live them, too.”
Matt Hopgood, Global Vice President, Strategy and Consulting

“Successful transformation needs clear vision from leadership,” Francesca Sorrentino, client partner, Publicis Sapient said. “Leaders are responsible for painting a really clear picture of what choices the firm will make, what that will feel like, and what everybody’s responsibilities will be to make that happen. It’s a really tall order both from leaders to stay relentlessly focused on their vision despite headwinds and distraction, because it’s hard to motivate people to go into the unknown.”

But according to Matt Hopgood, global vice president, strategy and consulting, “successful leaders and role models don’t just communicate change efforts – they strive to live them, too.”

“You can't stand in front of people doing the same thing you've always done,” Hopgood said. “If you're going to talk about change, you have to role model the change and demonstrate the change by tackling communications in a way that's different than you would have done before.”

Change

Authenticity is key here. Along with executive leadership, companies should look to appoint other change “champions” within the organization – people who understand the mission and can serve as role models for other employees.  By actively reinforcing core values though leadership action, while rewarding employees that embrace change, organizations have the opportunity to create new company stories.

Creating awareness by creating captivating messaging helps organizations (and their partners) embrace the benefits of ongoing DBT efforts.  Here’s four ways to get started:

Action	Outcome  Agree on culture-driven messaging with project sponsors and create a customized communications plan 	Consistent and encouraging messaging from the leadership team   Engage impacted stakeholders to share project information  	Sense of ownership and accountability from impacted stakeholders  Create multimedia awareness and update campaigns tailored to impacted user groups 	Communications from multiple sources to re-enforce key messages  Adjust communications and engagement plans based on immediate stakeholder feedback 	Stakeholders further understand the benefits of the change themselves

Fostering Change

Today’s workforce spans close to five different generations, each with their own sets of values, skills, and ways of communicating. In order for culture change to be successful, employees of all backgrounds must feel the work they do aligns with their own values.

When it comes to creating a connected workforce, organizations must understand how to tailor organizational programs that meet the needs of the existing workforce, while looking ahead to retain and attract valuable new talent. According to research from people success platform Glint, almost half of professionals cited positive company culture as one of the main reasons why they were proud to work for their company. As organizations move to embrace more digital ways of working, how can the organization provide training needed to upskill workers, while providing soft benefits that will stand out from the competition and retain new hires?

An arrow showing direction

According to Christian White, senior manager, OCM & project management, Publicis Sapient, Houston, change is an ongoing exchange with personalized messaging that ties organization together at every step of the transformation journey – with DBT teams, HR and leadership working together in lockstep to ensure continuity. Change initiatives should be framed in context to individual working imperatives, with employees better understanding the role they play in transformation efforts and how their behaviors help drive overall business outcomes.

“While each generation has their own belief systems and opinions around what constitutes effective communication, our experiences show they all have a common bond – they simply want to be heard,” White said. “We have to know who we're communicating with, what the message is, reinforce it and really drive awareness of what's going on across the organization.”  

Effective communication is a two-way street. As transformation projects continue their prevalence among large organizations, employees should be invited to share feedback throughout the entire DBT process.  This enables organizations to operate with agility and more effectively connect with employee needs along the way.

“When you're embarking on a broader transformation program, specifically around cultural change, there's going to be experiments that are outside of anybody's direct experience. Some are going to work and some are not – but you need to be more open to feedback that is constructive,” Hopgood said. “Even though the experiment itself might have failed, focus on what you've learned.”

“Even though the experiment itself might have failed, focus on what you've learned.”
Matt Hopgood

A New Way of Working

Change is inevitable, and when harnessed correctly, can act as a springboard for organizations to effectively reach deep into their organic assets. The innovations impacting the future today are budding quickly and are only in their infancy stages. By creating a work culture ready to embrace change, leaders can better navigate disruption and quickly adapt processes to overcome challenges and consistently deliver better customer experiences – while creating an environment employees are proud to be a part of.

 

Matt Hopgood
Matt Hopgood
Global Vice President, Strategy and Consulting
Francesca Sorrentino
Francesca Sorrentino
Client Partner, Financial Services

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