Should you use a secret Facebook group for your Change Communication?
I have recently helped an organisation with a very specific change communication challenge. The company is an aluminium processing plant with a five shift pattern (quite intense: rotating night, late and day shifts of either 8 or 12 hours). They were embarking on a journey of efficiency improvements, involving changing some of the ways people are doing their work.
Communication challenge: Engage staff in five shift pattern
Before we started, an initial survey was carried out to feel the pulse of the organisation and to identify any challenges going into this change. Analysing the findings, I found that two of the main communication challenges were:
- the perception was that the leadership team was not able to communicate the vision well and the communication style was perceived as one-way and top-down;
- the employees felt disengaged as they perceived that decisions were being taken without listening to their concerns or encouraging their input.
In order to address these specific challenges, we started with running a few communication interventions: we issued regular newsletters, we held town hall meetings, organised regular breakfast meetings where the leadership team and project team engaged two of the shifts over coffee and cake and we held dedicated brown paper process workshops with the shifts that were on site. We achieved great involvement from the day and late shift, however we were missing the input from 3 shifts at any one time!
Solution: Secret Facebook group for two-way communication
As I was told in conversations that “it’s pretty much a Facebook culture here”, and a number of the shift teams had already experimented with Facebook groups, we wanted to give a secret Facebook group a try as a medium to reach as many shift workers as possible, also during their night shifts or their days off. The aim was to issue ongoing information, but also to encourage input from staff that we couldn’t speak to personally due to their shift pattern. I helped a little working group to set up a secret Facebook group and to start the process of creating regular content in order to keep all employees engaged in the change programme.
I suggested a weekly content plan, which can be prepared and scheduled with tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, therefore keeping the time investment to a minimum. A potential weekly content plan could look something like this:
Weekly content plan:
Monday: focus / plan for the week ahead
Tuesday: quote of the week
Wednesday: what pain do we currently feel and how we can overcome it
Thursday: weekly project progress update
Friday: Highlights of the last week
You can prepare a number of the posts in advance and schedule them ahead of time with the scheduling tools.
Some important take-aways:
- double check the rules in your organisation around the use of social media. Are there any do’s and don’ts? Communicate them in the group rules!!
- agree whether you want to use the medium for information only or whether you encourage interaction
- agree in the team how you want to facilitate interaction and input
- adapt the settings in the Facebook group accordingly
- agree roles and responsibilities in a little working group around group moderator, content creation, facilitation
- an alternative to Facebook are services like Slack
So – Should you use a secret Facebook group for your change communication?
To answer my question: Yes, I can see a number of situations where you can benefit. A communication medium like Facebook or Slack is definitely a good means to reach a wider audience, also great to overcome the challenges of a remote work force. And it is brilliant to encourage input and interaction. A caveat though: you need to feed it with regular content and one or more team members need to act as facilitators of the forum to keep the dialogue going and to harvest and assign the good ideas that are posted.
It’s definitely worth a try!
“Communicate for successful Change” – practical Online Course
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Get in touch!
If you have a communication challenge on your change project, check out my free communication resources and / or send me a note. I’m happy to discuss some ideas with you.