Employee communication is an interesting field because it is based on the premise, among others, that the more tools we use to communicate with employees the greater chance that the message will be understood. This may be the case, however what CEO’s want more than ever before is that employees are engaged with that message and deliver the business strategy.
If you really want to make a difference and to have a seat at the table when strategy is discussed then you need to move away from talking about the information tools that will be used to communicate and think about how you can contribute to achieving organizational outcomes. So where do you start and what is the difference?
Well first you need to understand business strategy. This is not a difficult thing to do, but once you have mastered this then the questions you ask about employee communication change. Typically they should include the following:
* What aspect of the business strategy could an employee communication plan impact?
* How will the business strategy be measured?
* How can my employee communication strategy be measured and linked to the business measurement?
* Can I devise a low cost yet high impact employee communication strategy that will engage employees?
* How can my employee “information” communication strategy compliment this?
* What will be different for employees and the business if this strategy is successful?
The most important question you really are asking is how can I reposition employee communication in the mind of the CEO and the Executive team so that it always has a place at the table from the beginning and not called in once decisions are made and asked to simply get the message out there. The only way to do that is by demonstrating what you can do. And the easiest way to do this is the following:
* Not everyone is going to be supportive so in the first instance identify a business unit or division with a manager you get on well with who understands and believes in the contribution employee communication can make in achieving business outcomes
* Next once you’ve read up on business strategy and understood the business and customer needs of the division make a time to meet with that manager to discuss the business strategy he or she is working on
* Ask what the business targets are, what will mean success?
* Ask for the opportunity to research how you might assist in developing an employee communication plan that will engage all employees including managers in that division to achieve the business outcomes
* Go away and research many different strategies and come back with a plan including examples of case studies where business outcomes have been measured and achieved through employee engagement
In the consulting world it is a commonly understood belief that you need to “earn the right to advance” you can’t just go in and expect understanding of what you have to offer if you can’t demonstrate it. Similarly you need to have a solid example for the CEO and the Executive team to stop and take notice, and most importantly demonstrate how you contributed to the achievement of business outcomes.
Once you can demonstrate this you have successfully repositioned Employee Communication and have earned that seat at the table.
Look forward to your comments.