Facilitating change and empowering leaders in healthcare & biotechnology

Empowering leaders - two headshots of a male doctor and a female doctor on a light blue background
In an era of constant evolution and innovation, every industry is navigating change to keep up with the demands of the modern world. From technology and finance to healthcare and biotechnology, organizations are continually adapting to new paradigms and embracing transformative shifts. 

Facilitating change and empowering leaders in healthcare & biotechnology

Empowering leaders - male and female doctors looking at a tablet screen in a busy hallway

The dynamic landscape of change: A common challenge

Change has become synonymous with growth and progress. Industries across the board are reimagining traditional practices, leveraging technological advancements, and embracing new ways of thinking. Healthcare and biotechnology are no exceptions.

From groundbreaking research and innovative treatments to organizational restructuring and process optimization, the healthcare and biotech sectors are at the forefront of change — propelling humanity forward with each breakthrough.

But even when change is driven by positive intentions, it can meet with resistance.

Within healthcare and biotechnology, where lives are at stake and rigorous regulations abound, the need for effective communication is paramount for successful change management.

Empowering leaders to communicate effectively

As the world becomes more interconnected and teams span the globe, the concept of the traditional workforce has undergone a transformation. Organizations have embraced remote work, creating hybrid models that transcend geographical boundaries. In this environment, internal communications leaders play a critical role in ensuring that every employee, regardless of their location, feels connected to the organization’s vision, values and objectives.

Empowering leaders to connect meaningfully with a global, hybrid workforce requires a multifaceted approach. It necessitates the use of various communication channels that resonate with diverse audiences, such as virtual town halls, video messages and collaborative platforms.

Internal communicators (IC) are the bridge between leaders and employees, translating organizational goals into relatable narratives that inspire and engage.

The evolution of work and change management: A nexus for IC

The evolution of work also brings with it the need for robust change management strategies. As organizations undergo structural shifts, implement new technologies, or adapt to industry trends, internal communicators become change champions. They must navigate the delicate balance of conveying the rationale behind change while alleviating concerns and addressing uncertainties.

Change management within healthcare and biotechnology is particularly intricate.

Not only do these industries operate within complex regulatory frameworks, but they also deal with sensitive issues related to patient care and scientific advancement. Here, internal communicators emerge as conduits of information, ensuring that all stakeholders — from research scientists to administrative staff and leadership — understand the significance of change and their role in driving it forward.

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Embracing change with Andréa Topper of Guardant Health

“If you have fans right away, use them. They can be your champions so that when change starts to happen and people go to them because they are the company influencers, even though they might not be in senior leadership positions, people go to them because they respect them.” ~ Andréa Topper

Empowering leaders - headshot of Andréa Topper of Guardant Health Andréa Topper, Director of Communications at Guardant HealthStorytelling is a great way to approach communicating change. Just ask Andréa Topper, Director of Internal Communications at Guardant Health. She’s an IC leader who’s passionate about the power of storytelling to motivate, inspire and influence company culture — from CEOs to individual contributors.

She joined us on the Cohesion Podcast to share her experiences as a strategic communicator for both executive and employee communications in the biotech, life sciences, health, wellness, fitness, exercise science and nutrition spaces.

Andréa first sets some ground rules for communicating cultural change.

Do’s and don’ts of changing culture

  • Don’t neglect consistency. Inconsistent messaging and actions can create confusion and erode trust.
    • Do ensure that communication and actions align with the desired culture.
  • Don’t underestimate resistance. Some resistance to change is inevitable.
    • Do anticipate potential challenges and proactively address concerns to minimize resistance.
  • Don’t be impatient. Culture change takes time.
    • Do avoid rushing the process. It’s essential to allow employees to adapt and internalize the new culture.

By understanding what to avoid, you can head into change management communications with more confidence

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Relationship between change management and internal comms

Change management and internal communications are closely intertwined.

Effective change communication is a vital component of successful change management.

Key points to consider include:

  • Alignment: Internal communications should align with the objectives of change management initiatives. Be sure messages reflect the desired culture and explain why change is necessary.
  • Engagement: Communication should engage employees emotionally and intellectually, motivating them to support and contribute to the change effort.
  • Leadership visibility: Leaders play a critical role in communicating change. Their visibility, authenticity and consistent messaging build trust and encourage employees to embrace change.
  • Feedback loop: Communication should encourage two-way dialogue. Encourage employees to share concerns, suggestions and successes related to the change effort.
  • Measurement: Develop ways to measure the effectiveness of change communication. Metrics could include employee feedback, engagement levels, and the adoption of new behaviors.

Related: 10 important steps in the change management process

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Components of effective change communication

Effective change communication is a combination of strategy, content and execution. Key components include:

  • Clear messaging: Craft concise and clear messages that convey the purpose, benefits and expected outcomes of the change initiative.
  • Inclusivity: Address the needs and concerns of diverse employee groups. Highlight how the change will positively impact each team and individual.
  • Frequency: Communication should be regular and ongoing. Regular updates keep employees informed and engaged throughout the change process.
  • Variety of channels: Leverage various communication channels — such as town hall meetings, newsletters, emails and social platforms — to reach employees through their preferred mediums.
  • Engagement tactics: Use storytelling, testimonials case studies to illustrate how the change aligns with the organization’s values and contributes to its success.

Related: Understanding the critical components of storytelling

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Advice for professionals navigating change initiatives

Andréa shares some suggestions to help professionals who are struggling with change initiatives:

  • Patience is key: Again, culture change takes time. Avoid rushing and focus on achieving small wins along the way.
  • Gather evidence: Document and showcase the positive impact of your communication efforts. Use feedback, anecdotes and metrics to build a case for your value.
  • Identify champions: Identify and collaborate with early adopters who can influence their peers and advocate for the change.
  • Leverage leadership: Enlist the support of senior leaders in communicating and championing change. Their endorsement can increase credibility and engagement.
  • Measure and adjust: Continuously measure the impact of your communication efforts. Adjust your strategies based on feedback and outcomes to maximize effectiveness.

In the rapidly evolving business landscape, embracing change is not just a necessity — it’s a competitive advantage. By understanding the dos and don’ts of communicating cultural change, recognizing the symbiotic relationship between change management and internal communications, and implementing effective change communication strategies, IC pros can confidently navigate change initiatives and drive successful outcomes.

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Empowering leaders with Laura Borland of Waters

“Executives need to identify that the managers are your best representatives of the employee base. They’re the ones who are the eyes and ears; they’re all around, they see it.” ~ Laura Borland

Empowering leaders - headshot of Laura Borland of Waters Laura Borland, TA and Clinical Communications Director at WatersAs Andréa emphasized, involving leadership in communicating change is key to success. And Laura Borland, TA and Clinical Communications Director at Waters, knows all about how to empower leaders to connect meaningfully with global teams.

Laura joined us on the Cohesion Podcast to share insight around manager-led communications, strategies for reaching people globally, and helping leaders become better communicators.

In the realm of modern business, the rise of global teams has ushered in both new opportunities and challenges.

Companies are operating across different time zones, cultures and languages, creating a diverse and dynamic work environment. However, effective communication within such teams can be a daunting task, and organizations must navigate a complex landscape to ensure that their messages are heard and understood by all. And that’s where Laura’s expertise shines.

Challenges of working with a global team

Managing a global team offers a unique set of challenges that go beyond conventional team dynamics.

Communication, collaboration and coordination complexities are amplified when dealing with team members spread across different geographic locations, time zones and cultural backgrounds.

These challenges require a thoughtful and strategic approach to ensure the team functions harmoniously and effectively. Here are some key challenges associated with working with a global team:

Communication hurdles

Communication is the cornerstone of any successful team, and it becomes even more critical when working with a global team. Different time zones can lead to asynchronous communication, resulting in delayed responses and potentially hindering project timelines. Additionally, language barriers may lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations and miscommunications that can impact team cohesion and productivity.

Cultural differences

Global teams comprise individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds, values and work styles. While this diversity can be enriching, it also requires a deep understanding of cultural nuances to avoid unintentional offense or misalignment. Cultural differences can manifest in communication styles, decision-making processes and even perceptions of authority.

Failing to navigate cultural differences can lead to conflicts and hinder collaboration.

Time zone challenges

Coordinating work across different time zones can be challenging. Scheduling meetings, ensuring real-time communication, and maintaining a consistent work rhythm becomes complex when team members are spread across the globe. Some team members might find themselves working during odd hours to accommodate colleagues in other regions, potentially leading to burnout and work-life balance issues.

Building trust

Trust is a vital element of any successful team. However, building trust in a global team can be challenging due to physical distance and limited face-to-face interactions. Team members might find it harder to establish personal connections and gauge each other’s reliability, which can impact the overall cohesion and effectiveness of the team.

Project coordination

Coordinating projects becomes intricate when team members are located in different parts of the world. Tasks might be dependent on inputs from colleagues in other time zones, leading to potential bottlenecks. Ensuring smooth handoffs, managing dependencies, and maintaining visibility into project progress require well-defined processes and tools.

Technology and infrastructure

Collaborating effectively in a global team necessitates the right technological infrastructure. Inadequate tools for virtual communication, file sharing and project management can hinder collaboration and make remote work more challenging. Ensuring that all team members have access to reliable technology and training is essential.

Leadership and management

Leading a global team demands a different set of leadership skills. Managers need to balance the needs of individual team members with the overarching team goals. Adapting management practices to accommodate different cultural expectations and work styles is crucial for maintaining team morale and productivity.

Inclusive decision-making

Decision-making can become complex in a global team setting.

Ensuring that all voices are heard and that decisions take into account diverse perspectives requires intentional effort.

Excluding certain team members or unintentionally prioritizing one cultural perspective can lead to resentment and hinder team performance.

Conflicting priorities

Different regions or locations might have varying priorities, regulatory environments or market conditions. Balancing these diverse priorities while aligning the team toward common objectives can be a delicate act that requires clear communication, negotiation and compromise.

Personal and professional development

Providing equal opportunities for personal and professional growth can be challenging in a global team. Due to their location, some team members might have greater access to training, networking or mentorship opportunities. Ensuring fairness and equity in growth opportunities is essential for team member satisfaction.

Mitigating these challenges requires a combination of cultural sensitivity, effective communication strategies, robust technology solutions, and a willingness to adapt management approaches.

Successful global teams prioritize open dialogue, cross-cultural training, and a shared commitment to building an inclusive, collaborative work environment that transcends geographical boundaries.

Related: 10 creative ways to communicate with remote workers

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The overlooked strategy: Leveraging managers for communication

Empowering leaders - male and female doctors looking at laptop screen

Navigating communication challenges within a global team can be a daunting task, but there’s an often-underestimated strategy that can make a significant impact: harnessing the power of people managers as communication conduits.

In the realm of global teams, where information dissemination is riddled with complexities, managers emerge as crucial intermediaries in the communication ecosystem.

Laura’s insights as a seasoned HR professional bring to light the underestimated yet transformative potential of leveraging managers for effective communication.

Managers hold a unique position that transcends their role as supervisors — they are the lynchpin that binds leadership’s strategic direction with the day-to-day reality of their team members.

This intermediary role can effectively address the challenges posed by geographical dispersion, cultural diversity, and communication disparities.

The pivotal role of managers

Managers play a pivotal role in disseminating information throughout global teams. With their feet on the ground and a finger on their teams’ pulse, managers understand their team members’ unique needs, aspirations and communication preferences. This situational awareness equips them to interpret corporate messages in a way that resonates with their team on a personal level.

In a landscape awash with corporate communications that often seem detached and impersonal, the role of the manager introduces an element of authenticity and relatability.

Employees are more likely to connect with messages delivered by a manager they know and trust, rather than faceless corporate memos. This personal touch fosters a sense of belonging and engagement, especially in global teams where the physical distance between leadership and employees can seem vast.

Related: The people manager’s role in internal communications

Localized insights and empathy

People managers possess an invaluable treasure trove of localized insights. They comprehend the cultural nuances that shape their team members’ perceptions and reactions. This cultural awareness is pivotal in crafting messages that:

  • avoid misunderstandings
  • acknowledge diversity
  • promote a sense of unity

Managers can tailor the communication style to suit the cultural context, ensuring that all team members’ messages are well-received and comprehended, regardless of their background.

And managers bring an empathetic dimension to the communication process. They understand the aspirations and challenges of their team members, allowing them to frame messages in a way that resonates emotionally.

This empathetic approach fosters a sense of caring and support, which in turn bolsters team morale, motivation and overall productivity.

Making an impact in a saturated landscape

The strategy of leveraging managers for communication is particularly significant in an era where digital communication channels are flooded with emails, newsletters and corporate announcements. The impact of a message can often be diluted amidst this inundation of information.

When a manager who genuinely understands and cares about their team delivers a message, it breaks through the noise and captures attention.

People managers possess untapped potential as communication champions within global teams. They can humanize corporate messages, bridge cultural divides, and foster a sense of belonging.

By strategically empowering managers with the tools and support needed to communicate effectively, organizations can create a more cohesive, engaged and united global team that thrives despite geographical boundaries.

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Coaching leaders to be better communicators

Empowering leaders - male doctor and female doctor collaborating in front of computer screen

For this strategy to succeed, leaders and managers need proper coaching. While some managers may inherently excel at communication, others might need guidance in finding their authentic voice. Laura suggests tailoring coaching sessions to individual styles and preferences.

Some leaders might excel in small, intimate settings, while others thrive in addressing larger audiences.

Providing examples of successful communication from other executives can inspire leaders to adapt and experiment with different approaches.

Coaching also involves helping leaders understand the importance of repetition. In a global context, where information might not always be absorbed immediately, repetition becomes a powerful tool to ensure that messages stick. Leaders need to understand that just because they’ve communicated something once doesn’t mean everyone has internalized it.

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Creating a manager-led communication playbook

One of the key takeaways from Laura’s insights is the importance of establishing a manager-led communication playbook. This playbook can outline strategies for managers to effectively communicate with their teams, including methods like one-on-one discussions, team meetings, video messages and even podcasts.

Plus, providing managers with templates for common questions and topics can empower them to facilitate meaningful conversations with their teams.

Keep in mind: This playbook is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Just as global teams are diverse, so are managers. Customization is crucial to adapt communication styles to resonate with different teams and cultures. This approach ensures that communication remains relatable and tailored to the unique needs of each audience.

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Strategies for enhancing IC through people managers

Empowering managers to become effective communicators is not just about disseminating information — it’s about building relationships, understanding cultural nuances, and creating an atmosphere where employees feel valued and connected. In an era of global connectivity, this strategy holds the key to enhancing internal communication and achieving organizational success on a global scale.

Laura suggests that a practical way to initiate better internal communication is to first engage with executives and identify managers who exhibit high levels of engagement. These engaged managers can serve as vital conduits for disseminating information across the organization.

Form an informal cohort

To facilitate communication improvement, form an informal cohort of these engaged managers. Reach out to them via email, introducing yourself as a new communicator within the organization who wants to understand their perspective on the current state of communication.

Gather insights and cultural nuances

By connecting with these managers, communicators can gather valuable insights into how the organization handles communication both from the top down (executives) and from the bottom up (employees).

The informal setting can unveil cultural nuances and unspoken concerns that might not surface in formal discussions.

Create a manager advocacy and feedback loop

The informal cohort of managers can play a crucial role as advocates for improved communication practices. They can provide stories, updates and information that can be shared back to executives or cascaded down to employees, fostering a continuous feedback loop.

Take a consultative approach

Laura emphasizes the shift from merely producing organizational notices and presentation slides to a more consultative role. By collaborating with managers, internal communicators can become more effective in understanding and addressing the broader communication needs of the organization.

Talk about the manager’s role in organizational culture

The conversation underscores the pivotal role of people managers in nurturing and preserving a healthy organizational culture. While leaders may set the tone for culture, managers are responsible for translating and embodying it throughout the organization.

Effective communication with managers can drive positive organizational change. By fostering trust and collaboration between communicators and managers, organizations can create a thriving communication ecosystem that enhances employee engagement and overall performance.

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Navigating change and fostering connection in an evolving landscape

In a world marked by ceaseless transformation and rapid innovation, the healthcare and biotechnology sectors stand at the crossroads of profound change. As the pillars of these industries shift and evolve, so too must the strategies employed to navigate these transitions.

This journey of adaptation and empowerment finds its nexus in the realm of internal communications — a linchpin that binds cultures, bridges distances, and propels organizations toward their collective goals.

The dynamic landscape of change: A common challenge

Change is the driving force behind progress, cutting across industries with unwavering determination. The healthcare and biotechnology fields exemplify this principle, steering humanity forward through groundbreaking advancements, restructured paradigms and transformative breakthroughs.

However, the path of change iis fraught with challenges that demand strategic communication. As these sectors redefine norms and chart new horizons, the role of internal communications emerges as the guiding light that ensures clarity, alignment and empathy during times of flux.

Empowering leaders to connect meaningfully with global teams

In the era of global interconnectedness, traditional borders blur as teams stretch across geographical expanses. This novel work landscape presents both opportunities and complexities.

Empowering leaders to bridge the gap between disparate locations, cultures and time zones is paramount to success.

Internal communicators emerge as orchestrators of meaningful dialogue — fostering connections, sparking inspiration, and amplifying shared purpose. In a world where distance can dilute unity, the role of communication becomes a cohesive force that binds the workforce into a harmonious ensemble.

The evolution of work and change management: A nexus for IC

The evolution of work mirrors the tides of change that ripple across the globe. As traditional structures shift, internal communicators evolve into change champions. Their role transcends mere information transfer — they are the architects of understanding and the bridge to aligning diverse teams with evolving objectives.

For healthcare and biotechnology, this translates into guiding complex transformations while navigating the intricacies of regulations, ethics and patient well-being. Through this dynamic dance, internal communicators catalyze change, empowering employees to embrace progress with confidence.

Leveraging managers as communication conduits

Within the intricate tapestry of global teams, an invaluable strategy often overlooked comes to the fore — leveraging people managers as communication conduits.

These managers, embodying the essence of relatability and empathy, serve as communication bridges between leadership and employees.

Their localized insights, cultural sensitivity and empathetic approach resonate deeply, transcending cultural and geographical divides. Through coaching and tailored strategies, these managers become the linchpin in forging emotional connections, translating corporate visions into personal narratives, and nurturing a sense of belonging.

A collaborative journey forward

In the convergence of change and communication, the healthcare and biotechnology sectors find a common thread that binds diverse teams, aligns visionary leaders, and empowers internal communicators.

The journey forward is a collaborative symphony, orchestrated by insights from Andréa Topper and Laura Borland, guided by strategic platforms like Simpplr, and enriched by the ever-adapting expertise of internal communications professionals.

As the world advances, these sectors rise to the occasion, realizing that progress is not just a destination but a perpetual journey. By embracing the dynamics of change and the art of communication, they shape their destinies and leave an indelible mark on the canvas of human advancement — a legacy defined by innovation, compassion and unwavering dedication to a better future.

How Simpplr can help: Empowering change and communication

In the ever-evolving internal communications landscape, platforms like Simpplr emerge as catalysts for progress. These tools empower organizations to cultivate unity amid diversity, facilitating communication across geographies and hierarchies. They offer avenues for engagement, discussion and informed decision-making through centralized hubs and collaborative spaces.

Simpplr exemplifies the union of technology and strategy, propelling internal communicators to steer change with clarity and precision.

Watch this video to learn how Guardant Health transformed their organizational communications using Simpplr.

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