This article was updated on July 17, 2018.
Communication skills for HR leaders are an important driver of success, especially when it comes to organizational change. Implementing change isn't just about a great strategy or a brilliant plan. It demands emotional intelligence to understand employee concerns and to collaborate effectively while finding solutions.
Communicating With Employees and the C-Suite to Embrace Change
HR leaders are in the feedback business, constantly gauging culture and employee engagement by listening to what employees say. HR's crucial role in change management involves listening closely to the needs of employees and paying close attention to employment trends and collecting employee feedback. This enables HR leaders to better understand what employees need from their employer to make change succeed.
HR leaders can be a strategic partner to the C-suite by thinking about things from their perspective. When talking with executives regarding change, consider showing them the business impact or talking about what the competition is doing. Furthermore, creating a culture of communication will help close the gap between the C-suite and the rest of the organization. There are also a number of ways to effectively communicate about compliance, including employing multiple channels of communication and staying consistent and accessible while coordinating with C-suite executives.
HR leaders should consider various communication channels. According to the ADP Research Institute® report, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workforce, 79 percent of employees feel positive about technology allowing for deeper connections across distance and time. Consider sending messages through a mobile app or internal website. For example, Airbnb live streams meetings around the world and uses WhatsApp to share insights instead of having a traditional all-hands meeting, according to Forbes.
When a change represents a global initiative, localizing the message will be even more important. Language and cultural barriers can be obstacles to change in any global organization and must be taken into account. Having language and cultural expertise, as well as HCM systems that are adaptable, will be essential as HR leadership supports any multinational change process.
No matter what the change is, HR leaders should be soliciting feedback from various stakeholders and seeking to support the change with communication targeted to each group. If you're not sure how employees might respond to a big change, for example, talk to some of them first and evaluate their reactions. HR leaders should be the key facilitators of organizational change, as they are uniquely positioned to support both employees and the C-suite.
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