It seems to me that there are a few common reasons that stop leaders from getting started on improving their organization’s communication. After reflecting upon these, it also occurred to me that there is one common solution. Developing a communication plan is the essential starting point.
Let’s examine a few possible obstacles that you may face as you contemplate how to improve your organization’s communication efforts – and the reasons why I encourage you not to let these obstacles stand in your way!
1.”I don’t have time.” Believe it or not, once you have a communication plan in place, and you know what needs to be done, by when — time seems to become available. A plan simply makes your communication efforts more manageable and coordinated. That’s a promise!
2. “They won’t support it.” Almost every set of survey results about a school, business, or non-profit that I’ve seen identifies communication in one way or another, for good or for bad. Improving communication is a constant need. The good news is that when you do work on improving communication, there are some tangible benefits including:
- Improved employee engagement and retention.
- Increased understanding and achievement of organizational initiatives.
- Improved reputation management in the marketplace.
And those naysayers? Welcome and involve them in helping achieve the improvements. I’ve seen many doubters converted into real “communication” believers once they become engaged in the effort and see the results.
3. “We don’t have an in-house pro to work with.” If you do have an in-house communication person, he or she is your first go-to resource. However, many small organizations may not have a communication professional on staff. In that case, the organization assigns communication tasks to other staff members under the category “other work as assigned.” If they don’t have the training, these folks may need help too! There are trained communication and public relations professionals who can help you get started with a plan, sustain your efforts, help with training, etc.
4. “If we work on communication, someone will complain that we should have spent that time and money on something else.” Of course, that’s true. We can always spend our time and energy on something else. But consider that you may already be using many isolated communication tools – a website, social media, other electronic communication, and print documents. Isolated tactics are more like a random list of things to do rather than an organized effort that supports your organization’s goals. A solid communication plan glues individual tactics together. When you invest in a communication program, you are investing in organizational improvement.
5. “I don’t know how to get started.” When you come to a juncture in your organization when you want to take a serious look at improving communication, start with an objective look at your organization and the goals for improving communication. To do this, some start with a communication audit or use other assessments such as surveys, focus groups, series of interviews, a review of materials, etc. The point is to do the research. Once the research and analysis are complete, write the plan and start implementing. It does take work. In the end, you want a plan that considers your organizational capacity. After all, you will need to implement the plan too! So, don’t bite off more than your organization can chew. Develop specific action plans and get started – even if you take just small steps.
Perhaps this Communication Framework can help.
Here’s a word of caution. Developing the plan and then admiring it on the shelf is not good practice. You already know that. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it happen.
The real work is the implementation of the plan.
A communication plan is a living document – one you and your team come back to often to keep your communication activities moving along. In the plans that I develop, first, we discover the rationale, write communication goals, and set objectives, etc. The final piece of the plan is a chronological work plan. This is a month by month to do list, with progress checkpoints built in. And then we work on it! Only when you commit to implementing the plan, will you move forward. Plus, when the tactics tie to the overall goals of the plan, you will see improvement.
It works. I guarantee it.