Organization of internal communication at INTERSTELLAR Group

Interne communicatie en activatie Interstellar

From April to mid-November 2023, we assisted IT service provider INTERSTELLAR Group in kickstarting their internal communication around their transition towards a unified platform organization.

The ambition of Interstellar Group is to become the most relevant IT service provider in the Netherlands. The company aims to achieve this by acquiring the right knowledge and expertise and continuously developing its competencies, both organically and through acquisitions. The company was formed in 2021 from the portfolio of investment firm Quadrum Capital.

In advancing and integrating this group of companies, a well-organized communication structure is essential. Because how do you ensure that employees from the different companies gradually adopt the INTERSTELLAR ethos?

Our internal communication toolkit

In this six-month interim assignment, we initiated and executed a mix of tools and actions. The following resources were utilized:

  1. Formed an internal communication team;
  2. One online communication channel;
  3. Support with drafting texts;
  4. Created Q&A documents;
  5. Conducted communication needs assessment;
  6. Produced Voxpop videos to give employees a platform;
  7. Microsoft Teams;
  8. Internal news bulletins;
  9. Video podcasts;
  10. Breakfast sessions at all locations;
  11. Roadshows featuring the ‘new’ leadership team

Below you’ll find how we implemented the 11 points.

On an interim basis, we laid the groundwork, resulting in a solid foundation for internal communication. We approached the new structure and actions as follows:

  1. Setting up the internal communication team First, we established an internal communication team. We approached and engaged one person from each company, enabling us to gain insights and establish connections across various locations. This temporary communication team comprised individuals from marketing communication backgrounds and served as a conduit. We held monthly online meetings with the members to coordinate efforts
  2. One communication channel The decision to use a single communication channel had already been made, and we reinforced it. What is stated on it is considered the truth, not the rumor mill. Additionally, managing multiple channels requires more maintenance and attention, which we did not have the capacity for at that time.
  3. Support with drafting texts We actively supported CEO Maarten van Montfoort in drafting various communications, such as a speech he delivered during the summer party, where he shared the direction of Interstellar with the attendees. We also assisted in drafting messages regarding carve-out and carve-in situations.
  4. Publishing Q&A’s In preparation for the speech during the summer party, we drafted, coordinated, and published a Q&A. There are always questions following such a speech, and this helped address them proactively.
  5. Communication needs assessment As part of our standard procedure for interim assignments, we always ask, “When do you consider our involvement to be successful?” This allows us to align expectations with each other. For this particular assignment, we negotiated to have an internal survey conducted by an external party. The results of this survey not only confirmed our suspicions but also provided valuable insights to work with. In Q1-‘24, this survey will be repeated to assess whether improvements are perceived and to identify any emerging needs at that time.
  6. Employees in the spotlight (Voxpop videos) At the end of June, during the Interstellar summer party at Thuishaven in Amsterdam, we had voxpop recordings made. Various attendees were informally interviewed on camera. It resulted in surprising and hilarious interviews, all centered around the new vision and mission of Interstellar. These voxpop videos were shared in various edits via the communication channel in the following weeks.
  7. Reconfiguration of Microsoft Teams In choosing to utilize Microsoft Teams, we encountered several technical challenges. We initiated a reconfiguration of Teams to enable its more active use as a communication channel. Ultimately, we achieved some success in this endeavor, although to a certain extent, as some brands were still linked to their own tenants.
  8. Internal news bulletins Naturally, a form of internal newsletter is essential in the mix of tools. To ensure its future viability from the start, a few Interstellar colleagues set up and configured this newsletter within Teams. A bi-weekly update on the transition is published and distributed.
  9. Video podcasts Video and podcasts are essential elements of internal communication. After organizing and setting up a recording space for podcasts (by Qconferencing, one of the companies within the Interstellar Group), a video podcast is recorded and published weekly. Publications are available on YouTube and SoundCloud, but they are set to ‘private’ so that only those with a link can view and listen to the podcast.
  10. Breakfast session After the summer holidays, in early September, a central and hybrid breakfast was organized at all locations. During this breakfast, a video of Maarten was shown, in which the latest developments were shared, and roadshows were announced.
  11. Roadshows with the “new” leadership team Leading up to September, the new leadership team was appointed by the board. From mid-September onwards, this leadership team visited all locations to introduce themselves and, most importantly, to put a face to the leadership team, with personal attention and room for questions and comments. This dialogue approach has been very beneficial, as the research revealed that the board was somewhat distant from the employees.

The result?

A measurable outcome is still pending, but positive feedback is emerging from the above actions. Meanwhile, someone has been appointed to take internal communication to the next phase.

The mentioned ideas and resources were made possible with the assistance of the following external parties:

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