5 tips that will help you ensure Communication is always a topic in the boardroom
Communication and its importance to the organisation is a hot issue at the moment. We’re in a crisis, and in a crisis it’s obvious to everyone why the Communication department should be listened to. But what about afterwards? What will it take to ensure that Communication is always taken seriously? Sascha Becker, Head of Strategy at PROOF and Logeion Communication Person 2020, shares his insights.
For years now, I have heard communication people at network meetings talk in sorrowful terms about their role in their respective organisations. Overlooked and underappreciated, they want to know what they can do to become a permanent fixture at the boardroom table. What they can do to be seen as a partner in strategic discussions, and not just as the department that is responsible for news stories, intranet messages and great-looking PowerPoint presentations? Here are five tips.
1. Create value for all stakeholder groups
It’s crucial that everyone in your organisation sees that communication creates sustainable value and helps to deliver the organisation’s strategic objectives and ambitions. But how do you create that value? To begin with, always think from the business perspective and weigh the interests of the various stakeholders. Based on their business plans – long and short term – make an inventory of how Communication can support the business (instead of the other way around). Watch, listen, analyse, advise, implement, measure and optimise. And always give feedback.
2. Work with other disciplines
Communication plays an important role in creating an optimal experience throughout the employee journey. But Communication doesn’t do this alone. So, find ways to connect with HR, IT, Marketing, Customer Experience and any other relevant departments that you are going to need to make a success of a particular project. Think from the perspective of common goals and draw up a common story for top management about how you are all working together on improvements to the employee journey. Use the expertise of other disciplines and vice versa. If you demonstrate how you can contribute to other department’s goals, the impact Communication makes becomes more visible.
3. Act based on facts and measure continuously
To measure is to know. When developing communication activities, base what you do not on a gut feeling but on facts. Actively research, find out what’s going on within the organisation and gauge where the need lies. Then make your goals SMART so you can properly monitor and share progress – including with management. Always try to be realistic about budget, timings and operational feasibility.
4. Profile yourself
State your goals and think with management about their positioning and how you can increase their visibility within the organisation. Actively engage in a dialogue that is based on content and knowledge – at all levels. Proactively share results and show the impact your work has on strategic organisational goals. Make use of figures and data, supplementing them with remarkable, concrete examples from the organisation that bring the results to life.
5. Focus on the end, not the means
Communication helps your organisation to connect with, energise and retain talent. It also contributes to people’s awareness of, support for and application of a mindset, attitude and behaviour that fit with the organisation’s visible and invisible ambitions. Together, these lead to tangible results. So while effective tools will help to achieve these goals, they should never be the goal in themselves. To avoid this, always think from the viewpoint of the overarching ambition of the organisation and what that requires of people.
Success begins within
A strong reputation plus satisfied and loyal customers – they all start internally, with your employees. They make the difference for your customers and the Communication department plays an essential role in this. So start inside out, work step by step and always think in terms of opportunities and putting employees first. That requires stamina, resilience and, above all, you have to enjoy what you do to successfully promote the Communication function.