Building a communication plan is essential to get you ready for that all-important day one. The impression that you will make on your new stakeholders will dictate their behavior in the next couple of months. You have to be fully prepared on what to say when to say it, and how to say it. Helping us build our communication plan is David Olsson, Partner at BTD.
“Recognize that there is a change curve that people will go through and manage them through it” - David Olsen
Your communication plan should be centered around this goal. People will normally go through a change curve that includes confusion, doubt, fear, anger, stress, curiosity, excitement, commitment, and confidence. If you don’t guide them through these feelings, the next step is out. You’re going to lose key people and that’s not what you want.
So the first step in planning your communication is to figure out who are your stakeholders and what group are they in:
Your operating model will help you identify who are the key stakeholders that you need to retain. Just remember to be consistent with your message even though you’re using different ways of delivering it. So try and avoid one on one conversations with people. Not only that it will take a long time to finish, but it will also result in discrepancies in the messaging.
This is the actual message that you are trying to deliver. You need to choose your language and tone carefully as it will set the stage for how people will receive your message. You need to plan what are you going to say, and why are you saying it. If you fail to plan, you will blabber in front of everybody and that will not be a good first impression.
“Hi everyone! Welcome to the family. Here’s why we’ve bought you. Here’s what your operating model is going to look like, across a period of time, which could be a year, or six months, or could be a week. Here is the team of people who are going to help to support that change, and here is your part in it.”
“Be prepared to say I’ll get back to you on that one. Be prepared to say I dont know, that’s a fantastic question.” - David Olsen
Having a master Q&A is key. You need to have the ability to answer any question in a single moment. Also, do not shy away from questions that you don’t know the answer to. The worst thing that you can do is ignore those questions.
“Don't assume that just because you've bought the business, you are somehow better than them.” - David Olsen
Day one is most likely the pivoting moment where you can win the people’s hearts or a lot of people ends up leaving your company. Empathy in your messaging is extremely important. People would want to know that you care about them. Entering that all-important day one with hubris is not going to help you.
Be honest with your messaging because you need to gain people’s trust. If your attitude is driven by honesty, openness, and empathy, you’re in great shape
The main goal is to manage people’s fear and emotion by gaining their trust. And the best way to achieve that is to plan an honest, and clear communication strategy. If you don’t plan, you will look like a bumbling idiot and you will lose the trust and respect of your new stakeholders. Prepare what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and who is the message for.