Evolving strategy requires agile change communications for energy firm
Our client is a prominent energy company operating in five of Australia’s six states. In support of the group’s national growth strategy, its Finance Business Support Team planned to launch an organisational change program to boost its capabilities as part of a broader effort to foster a partnership between the finance department and the entire company over time. In the past, the firm had chosen to delay change information to employees until close to implementation, and this perceived late or slow information caused surprise, anger and ill will among those affected. Under the new project, the company wanted to share information about impending changes while still figuring out the details, and invite employees to share feedback. The organisational redesign directly impacted a group working under one Finance General Manager as well as affecting the wider finance team. The initial organisational change communications engagement was timed for early December 2018 with a full announcement of the transformation, along with a more thorough explanation of the redesign’s impact, planned for February 2019.
Blue Seed Consulting was engaged to work alongside the company’s People & Culture division, an in-house organisational redesign consultant and a General Finance Manager to develop a change communications strategy and execute it three weeks before the initial announcement. Part of the challenge was timing: the organisational redesign strategy was evolving within the team as Blue Seed developed the strategy to support it. Anticipating and planning for employees’ responses was at the core of our work, to ensure stakeholders felt prepared to respond and that their responses conveyed information which could inform the broader, long-term changes. In partnership with the client, we developed the communications strategy, tools and materials to articulate the organisational redesign to key stakeholders, leaders and those most affected by the change. We took the approach that some employees would not welcome the news, for fear it would compromise job security or at least alter the status quo; there was concern that other leaders in the organisation would view the change as too little, too late, projecting a negative view before the actual rollout in February 2019. Anticipating and planning for employee response were at the core of Blue Seed’s engagement, to ensure that stakeholders felt prepared to respond and that their responses conveyed information supporting the important organizational changes.
Throughout the three-week engagement, Blue Seed facilitated presentations of the work in progress to the Chief Financial Officer and key communications stakeholders to ensure alignment with the current state of organisational redesign programme. A thorough communications plan and audience identification, mapping and key message development was undertaken, along with a detailed employee questionnaire and presentation scripts, while communications templates for CFO- and stakeholder-led communiques were all carefully timed in the days leading to the December announcement to meet the client’s evolving needs. With our communications materials and tools in hand, the client felt prepared to deliver news of the organisation’s redesign and shared with Blue Seed soon after that the response was generally quite favourable, more so than expected. Read more about shifting mindsets to support change here.