The strategic planning process used to be a linear exercise. We started with the vision and then worked our way down through the what, where, when and how to develop the strategy. Then we might consider the people element of our strategy, which would bring in culture. The visuals always had culture as the foundation.
Today, successful leaders are talking about alignment. It’s no longer top down, it’s about intersection and overlap. Purpose is taking the lead instead of vision and intertwining it with culture and strategy is critical. Without strategy there is no direction, without purpose there is no connection, and without a strong positive culture there is a lack of productivity.
Culture is no longer the foundation in our model. In its place we’ve discovered that communications is the new component keeping everything afloat. Over and over again in our culture assessments we find ineffective communications triggering limiting values such as confusion, information hoarding, empire building, silo mentality, and job insecurity.
Shape your Communications, Shape your Culture
Communication comes in a variety of ways. When we think about communications we often jump to the written word. Email, policy manuals, newsletters, and posted bulletins are just some of the plethora of ways our employees receive information. Just as common are our verbal communications. And in face to face situations we are delivering signals with our body language too. How each of us delivers and receives information adds another level of complexity to communications.
No matter what the vehicle, what we say and how we say it has a huge impact on the culture of our organization. If customer service is a critical element needed in your culture in order to deliver on the purpose and strategy are you prioritizing this in your employee communications? If people are your most important asset, do you mention them in your annual report or town halls? Are you trying to foster a culture of collaboration and trust, but your policies and procedures are filled with “thou shalt comply” language?
5 Tips to great internal communications
Communications expert, and President of Vision2Voice, Andrea Greenhous advised me that effective communications need to be both modern and meaningful. In her book, The Captain Wants to Water Ski she provides many tips for organizations looking to enhance their internal communications. Here are 5 key ones:
- Have a strategy for your communications. What are the goals you’re trying to achieve? How will you measure the outcomes? What’s the consistent overarching message we want to send with all our communications?
- Streamline your channels. Use a few highly effective channels and make them awesome.
- Don’t use five paragraphs, with 10 run-on sentences filled with complicated words when you can say the same thing a few short sentences using simple words.
- Be authentic. Straightforward, clear and authentic communication is critical to establishing trust.
- Be transparent. In a digital age where finding and sharing information is incredibly easy, don’t think you can hide. Being open and transparent not only kills the rumor mill, it helps employees feel involved and valued.
Andrea invites us to think hard about how our communications can involve, inform and inspire our employees. Communication is the foundation of creating a great culture and a great place for our employees to do their very best work. Put a review of your communications on your Culture Blueprint for Action today!