How BT tackled the change communication challenge

How BT tackled the change communication challenge

September 28, 2015

Let’s be blunt: change communication is tough. Change is uncomfortable for all – regardless of the planning behind the initiative.

And in today’s fast-paced world the need for concise communication is essential, placing huge responsibility on internal comms professionals’ shoulders.

But it can be done and, in some cases, even boost engagement.

That’s what happened at BT when the communication giant merged two divisions, BT Operate and BT Innovate.

It involved 20,000 people and resulted in the formation of a new department – BT Technology, Service & Operations.

Kevin Brady, HR Director of BT Technology, Service & Operations and BT Wholesale, led the programme.

He told HR Grapevine Magazine: “It’s quite interesting because, although everyone works at BT, you actually have sub-cultures within the organisation – you have very different languages and ways of doing things.”

So what did Kevin and his team focus on?

They concentrated on instilling the correct culture in the new management team to ensure key behaviours were cascaded, and communication – so that culture was embedded throughout the organisation.

Kevin believes there are several elements that are crucial for effective change communication.

These are:

In times of uncertainty, communication must leave no room for doubt or misunderstanding.
Inevitably there will be whispers surrounding the programme. Don’t add to them.

Say it straight
People should be treated like adults. They don’t want to be pandered to. Be direct.

Be yourself
Authenticity is essential, particularly for senior leaders.
Kevin said: “You should be authentic with your leadership style and very authentic about what’s happening – even if that may mean there might be less people in an organisation or ways of working may change.”

Senior leadership must be visible – open to conversations and feedback.
Kevin added: “It’s important leaders are visible through the change, clear about the reasons and the logic behind doing it and then actually help people through that change because it is inevitable that people will be unsettled – particularly if they have been doing things a certain way for a long period of time.”

To read the full story, visit HR Grapevine Magazine….