There’s an old saying that mechanics have the worst cars. Well, often communicators are the ‘worst’ communicators about their own department and/or work they do on behalf of their department.
I include myself in this question — but why as communicators don’t we communicate about what we do? I have consulted with several individuals at which there were either questions about their performance or a restructuring. The gist of the problem is that they didn’t communicate about what THEY were doing.
Communicators are great at communicating about organizational issues or concerns, products, trends initiated by other groups. It’s actions for their department or for their function for which they have stopped communicating.
So here are a few things to consider – AND THINGS YOU NEED TO SPEND TIME DEVELOPING!
Communications Function Organizational Change
1) However small – make sure your department understands why the change, when it will take place and how things will be changed. Don’t be too busy on other corporate work to engage with your own reports. Make the Time.
2) Don’t over-engineer communicating! It may be grabbing lunch or coffee, sitting down for 15-20 minutes, walking around the building. It doesn’t have to be slides!
3) Don’t forget the tenets of change management – develop messaging, be prepared for questions, be accessible and provide updates. You wouldn’t have undertaken this change if it wasn’t important so ensure its success and treat your employees as you would recommend your leadership treat its direct reports.
4) If the change is about how they work, make sure you give them enough guidance on how to operate differently. When your IT group provides a new platform, they usually allocate people to help you navigate it so that it’s successful. Use this same approach if you’re asking your people to operate differently.
Keep in mind that your success (which requires communications) stands as an example of the overall value of your advice in general. Your success influences the perceived value of your advice to the rest of the organization and the degree to which your advice is followed.
Communications Developed Projects
1) Here the issue often is time and money. In this instance, the Communications Department is the project owner as well as chief communicator and sometimes you run out of budget and run out of energy. But you need to ensure that communicating is a major component of a project for which your group is responsible.
2) Identify all the key internal audiences that are important for your project’s success and map out how to reach them.
3) Don’t try to be perfect. Too many times the communications doesn’t go out because the communicator isn’t satisfied that it’s “not quite there yet”. Well, never going out ensures it will never be “there.” Is it more important to communicate close enough or not at all.
4) Like any other project, develop a communications plan — craft messaging and identify questions likely to be posed. Don’t short-change your own activities. If people don’t see your actions as successful – how do they trust your advice moving forward?
In Other Words — Fix Your Car!