By Vanya Babanin

Changes happen and they will continue to happen.

According to Mercer’s Global Talents Trends survey, 98 per cent of the senior executives have planned changes in the last year. A big part of the transformations does not happen in the way we have initially planned them. The reason for this is most often the communication.

Based on the different-scale transformations from my practice, here are three key aspects in change communication we should consider carefully.

First comes the message. In order to get the message to your people and make them process it, you need to serve it 5 to 7 times, preferably in a different way. In this process, it is crucial that two people speak. The first one is usually the CEO or other executive – the change sponsor. They should say what exactly changes. What will be done differently? Why is this done – what are the reasons behind the change. And how this will help the organisation perform better.

The second person is the direct manager. The team leader should tell each of their employees what this change means for them personally. Are their tasks shrinking, are they getting more, will they remain without a job, will some else take over their duties, what the new process looks like.

During the whole time of the transformation, we must assure balanced, two-ways informational transparency – not too soon to everyone, not too late, especially for the affected parties.

The degree to which we involve, the speed at which we involve the different people, also plays a significant role. It is almost always scaled, so consider carefully at what stage who should be involved. There could be a risk of leakage, but it is usually assessed and managed. The sooner you involve at least part of the affected people, the sooner you will get feedback on what is possible to happen in a different than planned way. Because there are always details known only to the people who are deep in the processes.

And the third pillar of successful change communication is personality. Whether the brand, or the leader, or both, this is the personality of the one that gives the story ‘What is happening’. When the preliminary work before the transformation is done properly, the image is one of a reliable, trustworthy partner. And the people continue to trust them during the transformation as well.

And – last but not least, the communication and transformations happen in a context, the context of our organization. This organization has a much bigger chance to accept a change when it is a learning organization. The opportunity for constant learning creates and develops the critical skill of being open to new ways of doing things. And that’s the only way forward.


Vanya Babanin, Interim Brand and Reputation Management