As you read this, your company is changing. Money is entering through one door and making its exit through another. A meeting is wrapping up across the hall, and the decisions made there will affect the rest of the business. A project is being finalized here; a complaint is being resolved there. This is the daily drumbeat of change that keeps every functioning enterprise moving forward.
But not all change is so benign.
Sometimes it is massive and swoops in without warning, blowing the doors open, scattering papers and overturning chairs. The coronavirus pandemic has been such a change. War in Europe is such a change. Inflation, rising gas prices and supply shortages are all the sorts of change that can force a company into a new mode of operation, where restructuring is necessary and a successful transition is not guaranteed.
Whether change of this scope presents a threat or an opportunity depends largely on how it is handled within the company. To put it differently, whether your company survives comes down to change management. And if any aspect of change management is most critical to ensuring the continued operation of your company, it is communication.
Read on to learn what makes communication so vital to change management and how wordinc can help you stay on course when change rocks the boat.
When the winds of change start blowing, employees, shareholders and management alike wring their hands anxiously and ask: Do the people in charge know what’s going on? What is their plan? And what is my role in that plan? The longer these questions go unanswered, the more impatient people become, and soon they’ll be jumping onto other boats to ride out the storm.
Frequent, clear communication is essential for this reason. It reassures stakeholders by proving to them not only that there is a plan, but that the plan is being adjusted as more information becomes available. Status reports similarly soothe worried minds by making it clear that the plan has not been forgotten. Stay transparent in your communication if you want to keep your crew and passengers alike from jumping ship.
International companies face a greater challenge here. It becomes harder to control the message when you have sites, factories, warehouses and offices in multiple countries. Even if a company has one official language for all communication channels, the people who make up a company will speak this language to varying degrees, which can make sending a message rather like trying to skateboard across the Himalayas: some of it will be easy, but the rest is an uphill slog.
Communication alone may not suffice. Steering your way through change to safety comes down to translation.
Translating status reports, press releases, internal memos and other change-related communications into the native languages of the stakeholders ensures that your message will be understood. But the most robust communication strategy for change management creates a dialogue. Rather than simply letting updates trickle out of the offices of the upper management, employees need their voices to be heard. Listening to their concerns and answering their questions makes them an integral partner in change management, which ultimately gives them some control at a time when they might be feeling powerless to the changes occurring in the world and within the company.
Invite their input by having them respond to surveys that have been translated into their mother tongue. Get their feedback on how they are experiencing the change day to day in their work, and let them share this in the language they are most comfortable speaking. Sharing one’s opinions on sensitive matters in the workplace is hard enough; make people do it in their second language, and they might prefer to sit the whole thing out. Whatever languages you need to translate into and out of, wordinc has the linguists for the job. Our global network of qualified translators and proofreaders will make sure every voice is heard and that nothing is lost in the process.
If translation is one pillar supporting your communication strategy during change management, the other must be consistency. There is no room for error when it comes to the quality and timing of the messaging. Thankfully, wordinc has plenty of experience coordinating large-scale, urgent corporate communication in multiple languages. We can set up a fixed team of project managers and designated linguists to take part in the communication strategy from beginning to end. These people will have comprehensive context for each new piece of messaging, whereas picking up new translators for every email and press release increases the likelihood of speed bumps and confusion. This dedicated team can also preserve the unique voices of every manager, executive, team lead, director and employee, ensuring that what they have to say doesn’t lose the personal touch.
Change is inevitable and unpredictable. If a communication strategy is not already part of your change management plan, start brainstorming one today. Which languages need to be considered? What surveys, feedback forms and questionnaires could you start translating now so they are ready when change kicks down the door? Forethought on these matters will save you valuable time when the unexpected occurs and will help ensure the success of your change management process.
Send wordinc an email today to learn more about how we can help you navigate change, or schedule a phone call using this online form. We look forward to hearing from you.
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