Leadership change? First, make sure your internal comms are on point

Before a significant change, an organization needs to prepare and evolve its communications strategy to match the expectations of an incoming CEO and keep its staff informed.

We’re gearing up for a CEO transition at the end of the year, so preparing for the next decade of communication is crucial and timely for us.

Before a significant change, an organization needs to prepare and evolve its communications strategy to match the expectations of an incoming CEO, evaluate new technologies to keep up with best practices, and ensure that you are keenly aware of what works best to reach your audiences.

Internal communications will have the most impactful and immediate effect on employees’ impressions, concerns, and support during any major change. This can be exciting, but also worrisome for many. It’s important that employees hear "the what" with a strong understanding of "the why" for what lies ahead.

The most important information should be pushed out via email, while more ongoing or "evergreen" news may be best served on a long-term platform such as the intranet. Getting the right message to the right audience on the right platform is key.

We’re also in the process of conducting qualitative and quantitative surveys to gain insight into how well our internal communications platforms and messages are performing and obtaining crucial information as we refine our strategy.

Digital platforms have enhanced our ability to communicate more quickly and broadly, but face-to-face communication between managers and their teams are still most effective.

During times of change, it’s also important to be proactive, transparent, and fast to get out accurate information to employees prior to them reading about issues in the media. Correcting misinformation quickly is also a key role of internal communications during a time of organizational change.

With more than 50,000 caregivers, Cleveland Clinic will always be on a communications "journey" to raise our capabilities, recruit the best team, and keep up with new technologies. In no way is there a "one-size-fits-all" approach to getting it right. Learn what’s best for your organization and what will help you ease into the new era of leadership or whatever direction your industry takes.

Eileen Sheil is executive director of corporate communications at Cleveland Clinic. She can be reached at sheile@ccf.org.

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