Why strategic communication? Well, have you ever shared a message with your team, only to have it fail to get the results you were hoping for? Frustrating, right? Also incredibly common.
Often, the root cause of messages falling short is a lack of strategic communication. In fact, dismay about why their vision is not being carried out is often one of the first “issues” my executive coaching clients seek to remedy.
It’s also quite common for my clients to want to “fix them” (👉🏼finger pointing away from the client). This sentiment is met with a “before we look at ‘them’ we need to understand how effectively YOU are communicating your messages” from me. (👈🏼 finger gently turning back towards the client.)
The truth is, effectively communicating your vision, strategy, and goals to your workforce is a more systematic and intentional process than many leaders realize. Too often there is a belief that communication is a “one and done” event, with action and results soon to follow.
When I begin talking about strategic communication with my coaching clients, there’s typically palpable resistance. It feels daunting and time consuming, and I hear things like “why should I have to hold their hands?” However, modeling effective communication for the organization isn’t an added responsibility, it’s leadership.
As the leader, it’s your job to be visionary. However, if that vision isn’t translating into goal-achieving action throughout the organization, what’s it worth? Studies have repeatedly proven humans need to receive a consistent message between seven and twenty times before they fully receive it and act on it.
I invite you to take a minute to consider how your last important message was communicated. If you didn’t get the action you’d hoped for, it’s likely due to a communication failure.
Below are three of my top reasons to plan for and follow-through with strategic communication:
Communicating your vision, goals, and strategy, helps align everyone’s efforts under common goals. Everyone in the organization, from the CEO to the entry-level employee, needs to know what the organization is trying to achieve, why they are trying to achieve it, and how they directly contribute to its success. Fact: Alignment under a common purpose and goals reduces conflict, tears down silos, and encourages collaboration across department lines.
Communicating your vision, goals, and strategy can be a powerful motivator for your workforce. When people understand what they’re working towards and why it matters, they are more likely to feel positively about their work and stay actively engaged. Fact: Managers and staff members who feel positive and engaged are exponentially more productive, creative, and innovative.
When everyone is clear about what the organization is trying to achieve and what is expected of them, it becomes simpler and easier to hold all accountable for results. Fact: With clarity, individuals are more likely to demonstrate self-accountability, which can be a culture shift that supports everyone doing their part to move the organization forward.
Early in my career, I reported up to an executive who visited a few times each year. There was one rhetorical question he always asked after sharing his priorities and expectations:
“How are you going to make it happen? Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!” Leo Fansler
Candidly, I wasn’t his biggest fan at the time. But that mantra has stuck with me for more than twenty years; and I’ve proven him right so many times.
You’ve got some terrific reasons to begin communicating strategically, now here are three easily applied tips to help you incorporate strategic communication into your leadership toolbox:
- Be clear and concise when communicating important messages.
Jargon, buzzwords, and hedge words create confusion, frustration, and inertia. A wise friend once told me “If everyone is accountable, then no one is accountable.” Fact: Enterprise-wide clarity of your vision, strategy, and goals, along with how everyone contributes to organizational success matters.
2. Be repetitive and consistent across multiple channels. Share important messages broadly, in large and small groups, through written and spoken words, publicly and privately. Keep each rendition consistent, even as you tailor it to the specific audience. Fact: Mixed messages are strategy killers.
3. Ask for input. Remember, communication is a two-way street. It’s important to solicit confirmation and feedback from your direct report group and beyond. Utilize the expertise of your workforce, as you create tactical plans to accomplish priorities. Fact: Workgroups who feel connected to and involved in plans are highly likely achieve their goals.
If you’re ready to eliminate the frustration of your messages falling short, remember effective communication is not a one-and-done activity. It’s an ongoing, intentional, process. Done well, consistent strategic communication creates a workforce that is aligned, motivated, and accountable, working together full-force towards achieving common goals.
Reach out today for more information on communicating strategically organization wide.