An interview with Ulrich Gartner, owner of Gartner Communications, on the importance of internal communications and its role in successful organizational change.
Ulrich Gartner is an experienced leader in the field of communications, specializing in strategic corporate communication, reputation management, crisis communication and restructuring communication.
Julie: Ulrich, you are an experienced restructurer and internal communicator. What advice do you have for internal communication professionals to help them manage through the current climate of layoffs and recession?
Ulrich: My advice to internal communication professionals is to be involved in the strategic discussions early on.
It's important for them to have an understanding of how the company got to where it is, what options were considered and which ones have been decided upon, and how this will affect those within the organization.
This information can then be packaged into a narrative that can be used as a red thread to provide consistent messaging across different stakeholders, from the financial advisors to the workforce representatives and the media.
Julie: What is your advice when it comes to managing layoffs and other difficult decisions?
Ulrich: The most important things when it comes to managing layoffs and other difficult decisions are clarity and transparency.
It is essential for employers to communicate openly about the situation, give clear information about what will happen, and show respect for those affected by the layoffs.
It is important for employers to act quickly to provide clarity and avoid situations where uncertainty lingers and to prevent any reputational damage from happening.
Being clear and transparent provides relief to people affected by layoffs and prevents uncertainty from lingering around and causing good people to leave.
A communicator's role can be to advise on the reputational effects of operational decisions and translate that into effective communication.
Julie: What can internal comms teams do to help employees who have gone through a restructuring process stay engaged and motivated?
Ulrich: Internal comms teams can help keep employees engaged and motivated through a restructuring process, such as layoffs, stay by giving them a vision for the future.
It is important to create a new mission and vision, so team members have a clear understanding of where the company is headed and how they can contribute.
It is also important to provide the necessary training and tools to help team members achieve the company's new goals, as well as reward them for their contributions.
Julie: What about involving people in the process of making changes and starting a new direction?
Ulrich: I emphasize the importance of making sure people feel valued, respected and involved in the process. I suggested that it's important to:
- Make sure people on the ground have a voice and are heard
- Give people the opportunity to contribute and share ideas
- Make sure the people who are affected by changes are treated with respect and dignity
The overall message is to involve people in the process and make sure they feel part of it. This will help ensure a successful transition to the new direction.
Julie: That’s all great advice. Thank you, Ulrich!
Ulrich: My pleasure.