Why Communicating Strategically Means DOING Less…

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One reason we don’t take the time to slow down and think strategically is because it scares the crap out of us.

We all seem to live in a state of fear that our boss might walk by our desks and catch us reading an article online instead of replying to another pesky email. We’ve bought into this myth that anything that’s not active production is somehow listless daydreaming or squandering of company resources.

I once had a boss whose face you could literally see twitching when she came by my desk and saw me brazenly reading a design magazine or following along with an online tutorial. It brought me great pleasure to make her twitch—who wants to work for someone that doesn’t want you to think?!?!? Not me!

So let me be clear about something—thinking is working.

You officially have my permission to think on the clock—although, I can’t vouch for your boss’s reaction. #thinkatyourownrisk

If you want measurable results; if you want engaged employees; if you want a demonstrable return on your communications investment—you have to start thinking about what you’re doing!

Unfortunately, we often hesitate to dream too big at work for fear that we’re just making more work for ourselves. If you’re trying to develop a strategic communications plan, you have to start thinking BIGGER and you have to stop worrying about how it’s all going to get done.

Which brings us to the third secret in our series on communicating strategically…

 

Secret #3 – You Can’t Do It All.

You have to learn to prioritize.

Last week we looked back at your Turnaround Report and asked three simple questions: what worked, what didn’t, and knowing what you know now—what would you do differently?

Now it’s time to prioritize. Start with your previous year’s projects and determine which are worth repeating, which ones need to be modified, and which ones need to go away completely.

Next, fill in any blanks or missing pieces. Here are a few suggestions we share with our clients when we’re mapping out a long-range communications plan together:

  • look for areas where employees are going to be challenged in the coming year;
  • consider which audiences might need additional support or have been underserved in the past;
  • think about communications channels that might reduce costs or allow you to reach employees in more effective and timely ways;
  • ask where you might make the most significant impact in your employees’ habits, values or skillsets; and
  • list key messages that you’re legally required to communicate.

As you respond to the prompts above and your priorities begin to surface, you must make a choice about what will get done and what will be set aside. You may choose to revisit other projects that are not a current priority at a later date, but for now just focus on those key messages that must be communicated next.

If you’re new to all of this and you find it a bit daunting, try breaking it down into smaller periods of time. Instead of mapping out an entire year of communications focus only on next quarter. Then as the next quarter approaches, set aside some time to prepare by repeating the steps in this series.

Strategic planning can be an overwhelming challenge if you’re used to taking orders based on someone else’s goals for your department. A lot of corporations default to what we sarcastically call a trickle down communications plan. A plan in name only, this reactive approach to communicating is void of priorities and completely incapable of delivering any return on investment.

A little time spent thinking about your priorities will help you unleash the secrets to communicating strategically and finally create the business results that have been eluding your organization.

So what’s stopping you from slowing down and thinking about your communications priorities for the year ahead?


 

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