Communication is key

March 2nd 2016 | Posted by phil scott


How to effectively communicate during a company turnaround

Your business is facing crisis and the only option available is to instigate a full strategic company turnaround.  The situation is critical and immediate organisational change is necessary, in fact, crucial, to keep the business up and running.

In times of commercial crisis it can be all too easy to focus resources and energy entirely on operational action.  Of course, taking immediate steps to fix the fundamental problems facing the business must happen.  But what should not be forgotten is the considerable need for honest, open and clear communication throughout.

Communication is central to achieving a successful turnaround.  Quite simply, it is not only the business changes you make that will save your company, but also how you communicate with all stakeholders while doing so.

A company will have a diverse mix of stakeholder groups and it is essential to communicate effectively with each and every one.   While you will need to be clear, consistent and credible and open up a two-way conversation with all stakeholders, it is necessary to remember that each group is unique in their position, objectives and investment in the company.  Keeping this in mind will help shape how your business communicates during a turnaround.

1) Employees

As the face of your organisation, communication with employees is paramount.  During a period of internal flux, it is employees who will be on the frontline, communicating with customers and potentially fielding difficult questions about the current situation.

It is vital then, to create open 2-way communication with employees, updating them on the situation and giving the opportunity for them to ask questions and raise any issues.

Employees may have lost morale or feel disengaged and it is important to successfully communicate and answer any concerns in order to reignite their passion and enable them to continue to be positive advocates for your business.

2) Investors

The primacy concern of investors when a company goes through a turnaround is how the financial situation will improve: how will this be achieved and with what timescales?

Investors will be looking for reassurance that the business will be able to turn financial negatives into positives.  They will need commitment that the business is highly focused on immediate commercial improvement.

Successful communication with investors and shareholders will require demonstrating a clear company vision for the future, illustrating how the cause of current problems will be addressed and giving a firm commitment to achieving future financial goals.

3) Customers

Communication with customers is all about working towards keeping their trust in your business, products and services.  It is important to avoid customers losing faith and beginning to look to alternative companies for what they need.

Two-way communication with customers can be as easy as inviting informal feedback and seeking input about their concerns, gained simply through employee-customer interaction or online channels.

Answering any customers worries in transparent and honest terms will help them to continue to have faith in your company and support your business through this transitional stage.

4) Senior Management Team & CEO

As the leaders of the company, communication amongst the Senior Management Team and CEO should focus on demonstrating a clear and committed path to achieving success.

Senior leadership are tasked with driving the whole business forward and as such the group should have on-going, truthful and frank communication between one another.

Individual members of the leadership team will need to take ownership of issues within their remit, addressing causes for the crisis and taking accountability for making significant and immediate improvements.

The sense of open communication should avoid one of culpability and instead form an honest and authentic forum for positive change.

5) The Media

The media is your mouthpiece to the public and a successful media strategy, with consistent messages, can support your company through the turnaround.  And don’t forget the importance of social media; it is imperative that plans are in place to carefully manage the organisation’s reputation online. Media objectives could be to foster feelings of confidence and trust in the business and to demonstrate company credibility at a time when this could be questioned.