Your whole organisation is a Comms team, whether you like it or not!
I was reflecting this week on a comment that a participant made in a workshop recently. We were talking about how to better articulate what you do and why you do it and the impact that more meaningful communication and stories can have. We then took a slight, but necessary, detour down the dead end path of 'Who's role it is to communicate in the organisation'. The overwhelming response was 'Comms'.
There were statements of "Comms need to approve everything before it goes out" or "We're not allowed to say anything unless Comms has checked that it's in line with our 'tone of voice' (insert sarcasm and air quotes)" or "Key messages need to come from the Comms team" and a little bit of "I'm too scared to communicate anything in case I get it wrong"! and "What about the people like Murry - he should never be put in front of customers, he's a terrible communicator"...
Now this may or may not be true for your organisation, but make no mistake, everyone in your organisation is a communicator. Everyone. You are always communicating, be it officially or unofficially. AND, most often the communication is unofficially.
Don't get me wrong, I love Comms teams, and I get it - There are certain messages that need to come from them. Certain things that need to be carefully managed from a communication perspective for sure. Certain things that need to be 'officially communicated'.
But there are always, and will always be, unofficial comms. When you are at a networking event and someone asks you 'What do you do?' you are communicating about your organisation. When you are at a BBQ and you're mates say 'So, how's work going?' you are communicating about your organisation. When you are publicly speaking to a group of customers at an event, or a community group about plans or changes, you are communicating for your organisation. When you launch a new internal program, a new strategy or long term plan, a project, you are communicating. Right down to when you stand up in front of the Senior Leadership Team or Board to present an project or status update, you are communicating.
So doesn't it then make sense to give people the skills and tools they need to be able to communicate more effectively, be more conscious of their language, (body and words) to make sure the right message is coming across, to the right audience, and they are equipped with real examples that support their message? This is when communication gets real - and powerful.
Whether it is external messages to customers, or internal messages to get buy-in and engagement across the business or team, people need to be able to articulate their message and control the narrative around it that supports to organisations vision, values, and/or impact, and communicate in a way that is their language, their style, and their tone of voice - with their stories - and be engaging. (and by engaging, I mean not boring!.... I'm allergic to boring people....)
It's about helping people get clarity of message and audience, connecting them to their voice, their style, their stories and giving them the communication tools to articulate and engage in an impactful and meaning-full way.
Yes it means letting go of a little control, yes it means investing time and effort into building your peoples communication capability, and yes, it means that even "Murry" who you think shouldn't be allowed to be in front of customers, should have the opportunity to learn and grow in this space, because whether you like it or not - Murry, and your whole organisation are always communicating. So you might as well teach them how to get better at it!
My question is: Why wouldn't you want your people to be able to better communicate what they are doing, why it's important and the impact it has for their customers and organisation? Why wouldn't you want your people to have the capability and be empowered to communicate key messages to everyone they meet - be that a BBQ or a networking event? Why wouldn't you want everyone to be able to stand on their 'corporate soap box' and communicate with passion, pride and excitement how what they are doing is making a difference to their customers and their communities?
The more people you skill up in this space, the bigger and more powerful your 'Comms team' can be - no matter how big or small your organisation is.
Next month I will be launching my 'Get better work Stories' program aimed at helping people be more meaning-full communicators inside and outside their organisation. If you would like to get a jump start on this, and hear more about it, click the 'book a free chat' button at the bottom of the email, or give me a call directly. I'd love to hear from you.
In the meantime, start listening to what your people are communicating, and noticing who might need some help in this space.