Back at the Office

It’s one thing to listen to a speaker. It’s another thing to do something about what you learned when you return to the office—assuming the speaker said something worth doing.

Last week I delivered three presentations to communication professionals attending a world conference in Washington, D.C. One was a three-hour workshop focused on reinventing the communication function—shifting its focus from producing activity to producing results and value. Two were focused on creating leadership engines—organizations such as P&G, IBM and FedEx that are known for their leadership bench strength.

For those who attended my presentations and those who didn’t, here are some things to consider back at the office.

A Dose of Reality
A recent global survey of 1,100 communication practitioners revealed that they:

  1. Don’t believe they’re perceived as adding value;
  2. Have the wrong priorities—activity over results; and
  3. Lack skills and knowledge in key areas, especially in managing change and business and financial acumen.

A Modern Way to Think About Managing Communication
Communication is larger than tweets, videos, posters and town hall meetings. It includes what leaders at all levels say and what they do—the signals they send that communicate what’s important and what is not.
Measurement, rewards and recognition communicate, as do training classes and how we manage our work processes.
Best practice communication companies are working in partnership with line managers, HR, supply chain management and others to improve results. They manage the entire communication system, not just pieces of it.

What Others Are Doing

  • A global shipper’s communication pros worked with its Los Angeles operation to improve export sales by 23%. They generated a 1,447% ROI, then replicated that in five more locations with equal success.
  • A manufacturer’s communication people improved productivity in one location by 8.5%, saved $737,400 in one year and generated a 700% ROI. That effort became a model for managing communication globally.
  • Communication folks at a consumer package goods’ company cut damage in a distribution center by 65% while improving productivity by 16%.
  • A high-tech engineering company’s communication people improved on-time delivery in a Texas operation by 50% while improving sales by 30%.

A Different Kind of Communication Work
What did the communication people in each of these companies do? They worked with other disciplines within their organizations to eliminate communication breakdowns like mixed messages, slow moving, inaccurate or missing information that were making it difficult for people to perform at their peak. That’s different work from the traditional news and information distribution performed by many communication departments.

When You Get Back to the Office…
Tell your leader: “I want to add more measurable value to our organization. I know it’s possible because others are doing it. They’re managing communication to improve business results and add measurable value. If they’re doing it, we should be doing it. There are no legitimate excuses for not making the shift.”

KEY TAKEAWAY: For communication departments today, there are no more excuses to continue operating as a value-draining enterprise within any organization.  Your discipline can begin improving measurable business results and adding real value by shifting your focus from pushing out to pulling in. Go do it!

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