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4 tips to finding the right Change Communications Consultant

By: Andrew Formanek, Strategic Thought Partner of Key&Spark

So, you’ve decided to engage a dedicated communications consultant to support your change or transformation program? Great! 

If you read my last post, you’ll know how and where a communications professional can support your organization’s change and transformation activities.

And if you’re now looking to fill that role, here are four tips to help you find the right person for the job.

 

  1. Be open and set expectations early

Communications can mean different things to different people. Whether you’re looking for someone internally or would like to engage an external consultant, you’ll both need to share the same understanding of your organization’s goals and where communications can support them. 

Before starting your search, ask yourself: 

  • Who does this change impact? (e.g., employees, customers, investors, the public)
  • Which stakeholders will have the biggest influence over this transformation?
  • What behaviours or attitudes will those stakeholders need to demonstrate for this initiative to be successful? 

Be ready to talk openly about your answers, as they will help a potential consultant understand the scope of your program and determine which communication activities to focus on and which to set aside. 

With a clear understanding of your needs, any communications professional worth their salt will bring solutions to many of your program’s practical problems. Being candid about potential issues or pain points within your organization will help your consultant prepare a communication strategy to support your transformation’s goals. 

 

  1. Where is your organization in the transformation program lifecycle?

The pain points mentioned above will depend on where your organization is in its efforts to change. Is the transformation still a seed germinating in the mind of the CEO? Has it gone through a series of false starts? Or is it well and truly underway? 

In a perfect world, a communications consultant would get in on the ground floor – not too early, but at a time when the program’s goals have been defined, an organizational structure has taken shape, and initial planning set out. If these critical elements are still missing, hold off on the engagement until your consultant can access the information and people they need to start working effectively.

In-flight change or transformation initiatives present a different set of obstacles, especially if there wasn’t anyone managing the communication activities previously. In such instances, be open about where the organization has tried (and quite often failed) to connect with stakeholders. This input will help your consultant steady the ship and win back some trust and confidence in the program and/or its leadership.

 

  1. Sharing is caring (for your stakeholder community) 

As soon as you’ve found the right consultant, start sharing as much of the program’s strategy and planning as you can. This should include yearly and quarterly objectives, the roadmap and milestones that will guide progress, as well as an overview of the risks and dependencies. 

Even if some elements of the transformation are still being finalized, the more your consultant knows about what may (or may not) be in the pipeline, the easier it will be to set out a comprehensive communications strategy and put it into action. 

If the transformation is already up and running but your stakeholders are confused, fearful or disillusioned, share your ideas about why that is, and the actual planning that brought the program to this point. This will provide important insight when setting a new course for the program’s communication activities.

 

  1. Taking a seat at the table

Equipped with the information and insights provided above, it’s now time for the consultant to start working with the program’s leadership, ideally via frequent, high-quality interactions with the program head and open access to team members and other key contributors. 

Here, it’s important that your consultant is given an equal seat at the table, as well as the opportunity to present their role, authority, areas of responsibility and objectives. 

To do the job effectively, the consultant will also need full visibility over the program planning and be duly notified of decisions and changes affecting the transformation or impacting stakeholders. That means participation in all relevant meetings and workshops, as well as close involvement in preparing publicly available output.

Engaging a dedicated person to steer a program’s communication efforts is a powerful way to move forward with any change or transformation. Guided by the four points above, you can start this important relationship off on a solid footing based on cooperation and understanding.

 

Are you interested in learning more about the communications support Key and Spark can offer to your transformation and change programs? Get in touch for a free intro call.

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