It’s a new year. Time for testing those personal improvement resolutions that we set for ourselves. Sometimes they are easy, sometimes more challenging, and sometimes we write a list of things we never intend to follow through anyway.
But what about professional resolutions? What can you resolve to improve in your career during 2019?
CEOs and their communication practitioners have a huge opportunity to convert internal communication from a cost center to a value creator. Others are doing it. Why not you?
It’s time to break up with the bad habit of spewing out stuff that has little to no positive impact on your organization’s bottom line and begin managing communication to improve business results and add measurable value.
Why has this cost drain been permitted for so long? Two reasons. First, most CEOs haven’t been exposed to communication professionals who are business people first, communication people second. Second, communication pros work hard to meet their leaders’ expectations. Hence, they have delivered what their leaders expected. Like stuff.
And then something began to shift. First, there were business leaders who began pressuring all organizational functions to add value or else. Communication people heard the “or else,” but didn’t know how to change their role.
Then some of their professional colleagues began doing work that added value. These colleagues began redefining communication in a way that stretched well beyond videos, social media and newsletters. They started adopting a more strategic role that defined communication as all the way we send, receive and process information.
When communication is managed well, we decide and act in ways that help our organization succeed. When communication isn’t managed well, we don’t.
Theresa Paulsen, a senior leader and communication strategist, was an early adopter. She guided the leadership at a consumer package goods company through the development of a communication value proposition: “We either make money or save money. If it doesn’t make or save money, we don’t do it.” This simple but powerful message conveys a new and realistic approach to managing communication. Theresa and her team delivered on that promise over and over again.
So, too, with Terry Simpson, who headed internal communication at FedEx Express. She teamed with Dave Bronczek, FedEx’s CEO, to remove communication breakdowns that were impeding the company’s ability to boost export sales. In less than 90 days, Terry and her team increased sales by 23 percent and generated a 1,447 percent return. She replicated the effort over five more locations, further increasing sales by $6.1 million while generating a 1,660 percent ROI.
Other leaders, working in concert with their communication people, began making serious improvements in workplace injuries, quality, turnover, absenteeism and productivity. They learned a new way to manage communication beyond distributing news and information.
Here’s what “new style” communication professionals do:
- Remove communication breakdowns that negatively affect organizational performance. Breakdowns include mixed messages, slow moving, inaccurate or lack of information.
- Focus on high priority targets that generate significant returns.
- Measure what matters to the business. Old way communication focused on measuring knowledge, awareness, the number of tweets or page views, none of which tell us anything about the state of our business. New way measures are business targets such as quality, service, costs and productivity.
- Adopt a strategic adviser role that helps leaders build their competencies and aligns systems and processes so they drive improved business results and added value.
- Build competencies in areas such as change management, leadership development, coaching and business and financial literacy.
KEY TAKEAWAY: It’s a new year. There’s never been a better time for internal communication practitioners to step up and improve the business of the business—and yourselves. Communication pros who prove they can find and capture major savings and business results are more likely to get compensation increases too.
NOTE: Two of my former clients and I will be conducting a 2-day workshop on how to make this shift on February 26-27 in Dallas, Texas. AT&T is hosting us. Click here for details.