What We’ve Got Here Is a Failure to Communicate: How to Create a Solid Communications Strategy

With all of the communication tools and technologies available today, why do so many businesses still have a communications problem? Here’s a simple 7 step process for building a solid communications program.

Many firms suffer from poor communications. It’s my theory is that too few firms have the necessary communications program in place to do it well. Take the following steps to develop an effective communications program plan:

1. Delineate your objectives – Determine what you expect to gain from your communications program. Objectives could range from enhancing service delivery and improving staff loyalty to gaining a bigger marketplace influence or upgrading relations with the media and regulatory entities.

2. Baseline your current communication practices – Once you know your objectives, perform a communications audit and evaluate how your business communicates. This characterization should involve: brainstorming with staff, interviewing senior leaders and surveying customers, suppliers and distributors with the sole purpose of discovering how, when, why and where your people communicate and message for, and about, your business.

3. Determine your key audiences – List all the audiences that the firm might want to contact, attempt to influence, or serve. At a minimum, these will likely include customers, staff, industry groups, business partners, and the media.

4. Translate these audience sectors into specific projects and programs aimed at delivering information is the best ways possible to each group – You’ll need to consider your baseline results (as determined earlier) and map that against available human and financial resources, of course. But, by crafting initiatives for each group, you’ll be much better positioned to achieve your Communication Program’s objectives.

5. Establish a timeline for execution – With the initiatives (which comprise your Communications Program) identified, it’s time to craft a calendar grid that outlines when each effort will begin and be accomplished. Group the projects and programs into 18 month intervals (what I like to call “Implementation Plateaus”). This enables your organization to better understand what will be done when to improve its communications infrastructure.

6. Estimate costs at an implementation plateau-level – By “chunking” the work effort into 18 month intervals and giving an estimate of that total investment, you can shift dollars as needed among the initiatives that make up a given implementation plateau. This provides some wiggle room for your organization as it evolves its communications strategies over time.

7. Begin to execute and evaluate – Shape a method for measuring results into each project / program plan that you launch. Be sure to track project / program progress on a monthly basis and report it back to your senior management sponsors as you evolve each effort.

To close, a solid Communications Program plan requires about is 60-90 days to complete. Once in place, though, with the proper level of executive commitment and maintenance you will a communications asset that can be kept in sync with your organizational advancement for years to come. To learn more, just reach out to me and we can discuss it directly.

Note: This piece was originally published by Inc on October 31, 2016. If you like this article, please subscribe to my column and you’ll never miss another thought piece!

 

Work Performance and the Perils of Comparison

Let me take you back in time.  You’re in 8th grade.  You’ve signed up for your first guitar lesson and the teacher plays Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”   She offers it up as an example of a great song that you can learn to play.  You’re motivated to learn, right?  Wrong!  She no sooner finishes her sentence about “you can learn how to play,” when you hear Jimmy Page rips into his classic solo and you decide then and there that it’s time to take up sports – “because there ain’t no way you’re going to be able to do what Jimmy’s doing in that song!”  You leave the lesson discouraged.

I share this because there is new evidence uncovered by researchers Avi Feller and Todd Rogers that suggests “that exposure to exemplary peer performances can undermine motivation and success by causing people to perceive that they cannot attain their peers’ high levels of performance.”  This finding has some huge implications for businesses – especially as it pertains to individual and team performance in the workplace.

But, managers, don’t despair!  You and you’re team are not doomed to a work life of less than stellar achievement.  There are some things that you can do to avoid falling into this trap.  Here are 5 suggestions:

1.      Show that you’re into it!  Passion and enthusiasm are contagious.  If you demonstrate that you’re into the work at hand, your team can’t help but follow.

2.      Set goals that can be attained.  Don’t set the Led Zeppelin as the goal.  Rather, choose goals that can be achieved.  The team will hang in there and work to get better, if they can gain a sense of accomplishment as they work.

3.      Stop comparing your team to others.  As the research suggests, there are other ways to motivate.  Challenge the team to work towards improving their performance every day, every week and every month – Jimmy Page wasn’t born a virtuoso.  He grew his talent over time through practice and dedication.

4.      Provide air cover.  If you have someone else to answer to, as most managers do, you may not be able to control how you and your team are measured from above.  So, it’s essential that you have your teams back as they progress.  By providing some air cover you’ll give your team the chance to mature and evolve into meeting and exceeding all expectations.

5.      Make it about the journey and not about the destination.  It’s OK to have some fun at work.  Make performance achievement about the “this is how we get better” and, not about the consequences of not meeting goals.

To close, comparison can be a perilous path to take when working to motivate.  Like the guitar teacher, you can intimidate those that you’re trying to inspire.  Instead of falling into the comparison trap, try some of these tips and you just might lead your team to outstanding performance.

NOTE: This piece, Work Performance and the Perils of Comparison,  was originally published in Inc. on July 18, 2016.

Managing Gen Y

From an early age, they were told that they were the best, awarded trophies for just for showing up, and developed a false confidence that partybegets their frustration and doubt as they enter the workforce. Here’s how to engage them by Managing Gen Y

Read More at Inc. Online

Please pass it around — your team will be glad that you did!