Organizational change when done well shares many similarities with a good blog, a good blog has authoritative content, is engaging to the audience, is frequently updated, and facilitates two way communication between the blogger and their audience. Let's examine these four aspects of a good blog, in light of informing organizational change.
1. Authoritative Content
Credibility in an organizational change initiative is critical, just as in the online environment you'll be found out if you blog in an area which you are not familiar with. Managing a change project in an area you're not familiar with is courting disaster. What do I mean by an area you're familiar with? You need to understand your own limitations, I've never been to France, since I will not be blogging about holidaying in France anytime soon. Just the same as I I'm an HR guy, I'm not an IT guy, I can manage the people aspects of an organizational change undertaking, but I'll be leaving the IT aspects to a college or contractor who is knowledgeable in that area.
2. Engage your audience
For a blog to be successful it must have readers, the same is true of a change project – you must absolutely have an engaged audience that will join you on the change journey. Many change projects that I've witnessed absent this key aspect of change. For example in some I've seen around changing employment conditions, the change agent mistakenly believed that as the employment agreement states something can be done in this way, that it can regardless of the audience.
Change is a team event, substantive change does not happen without the support of a dedicated team. This team can be enlarged through engaging with your audience, just the same as a blog is impacted by low comment rates, a change management project is negatively impacted when it attempts to push its way through a disengaged audience. Change is not about force, change is about engaging the audience, and working together through to the desired state.
3. Frequent Updates
While there is such a thing as informational overload, frequent updates should occur in one of two instances, when you have something to say, in instances when you're either asked a question which has relevance to the wider audience or in acknowledgment that the 'mood' of the audience requires reassurance – even if its restating something that you've communicated previously.
Blogs are not simply the written word – bloggers certainly do not limit themselves to only one medium, and either should a change agent. The best change management projects that I've been involved with have included face to face communication in a conference style address, one on one meetings with key stakeholders, organization wide video communications, and written communication in the form of internal organizational blogs.
Change just like blogs are not a solo effort, blogs feature guest bloggers, this both gives the blog owner a break from the constant need for new material, and also enables the blog to provide the audience with a different perspective or insight into specialist knowledge. Involving others in the communication of change is just as important and for many of the same reasons. There will be aspects of the change project where it is better to let another person communicate the message, this may be related to their position (a senior executive for example), or because of the credibility and respect they command from your audience.
4.Two way communication
Reading any popular blog you'll notice the ability for the reader to place comments to the author, this aspect must also be present within change management. Change management is not about pouring information into the minds of the change audience, rather it is about engaging the audience and bringing them along the change journey. Often we maximizeimate the importance of our position as change agent, while we certainly have some responsibility in the change project, the audience also has a significant part to play in the change. The audience will consist of employees who have direct knowledge and experience with the aspects that the change is focusing on – an incredibility important source of information and fault finding as the change project progresses. Too often we surround ourselves with people who agree with our perspectives, often these people will unknowingly support us as we fall over the edge. We must engage with the naysayers, understand and be able to address their concerns – people at the 'coal face' engaged through meaningful two way communication are critical in driving a successful change management project.
Next time you're asked to manage a major change project, take a look at a high ranking blog, and see how they're delivering quality content, engaging with their audience, and delivering the information needs of their audience. Change agents could learn a lot from this seemingly unrelated area of expertise.