The role that internal communication plays when supporting employees through change and large transformation projects is crucial – and it’s so much easier to deliver the messages that matter if you work across the business you're in, rather than just focusing on the expertise you bring to the process.
For Group HR Director at UK wealth management company Quilter plc Penny Cole, it’s all about leaving your ego at the door and finding the right people in the business to help get the job done – and she’s happy to tell us how to do it…
Knock down a few walls
“At Quilter, we are very keen on ensuring that we create an employee experience that represents culturally where we're trying to take the organization. So when we built an employee engagement program during a recent large-scale transformation program called Hello Tomorrow, we deliberately removed walls to ensure that the right people in the business could come in and help. We had Operations professionals and managers, HR professionals, change management professionals and internal comms professionals in the team, so it was really a suite of people that brought many perspectives to the employee experience. The benefit of doing that meant that we had multiple perspectives on the experience we were building.”
Don’t ignore the whispers
“We’ve developed a process here called The Big Ugly Picture, where you stand back, you map out the timeline of the journey, look for areas of light and shade, wrap the human experience around it, then build your change management and engagement plan according to that. This approach really helps you counter the ‘whispers’ – those unhelpful moments in the journey that you're taking people on. It’s really important that organizations consider the tough parts of any change journey and lean into those, we must prepare and support our people through the tough times as well as the good times and think about the story we want them to connect to. There was a particular slide that I used to get senior stakeholders (Board, Executive Team, Steering Committees) on board with this thinking that outlined the unhelpful narrative versus the narrative we're trying to move people towards. It really helped us create that journey.”
Eliminate the blockers
“Quilter has been on a change trajectory for quite some time, but a recent shift for us since the pandemic has been around no longer being able to rely on face-to-face interaction. Because of this, cascading messages through that middle-management layer was actually becoming a real blocker for us. To tackle this, we asked them why we were seeing this barrier, we listened and rebuilt our plans around what they needed to successfully support their people. We found out that what this group needed was really practical support and tools such as managing performance through hybrid working and supporting mental wellbeing. They were struggling to cascade and connect their teams to strategy when the basics were the priority for them. We knew this group was stretched, we knew that they were facing lots of different challenges, so we decided to engage the entire audience on Quilter’s strategy in one go and give our managers the tools they needed to continue the conversation. And that's the approach we've taken since the beginning of this year.”