Recently I attended a conference of communications leaders and was struck by a common theme – and challenge. The companies in attendance had built communications strategies and plans but few could articulate how their organization defined effective communication. Sounds pretty obvious, doesn't it?
You'd be surprised.
We've come across leaders who think an employee meeting equaled effective communication simply because they got through 30 slides in the allotted time.
Chances are your organization doesn't allow each department to have its own definition of quality, safety or ethical behavior. Neither should it have varying definitions of communications effectiveness. So how do you create a common definition across your company?
First, you do it by stepping aside. Communications professionals should not be crafting a definition of effective communication. Instead, they should be facilitating a process that engages a diverse group of workers – from all levels – to help shape.
Create a mini-action team that, over the course of one or two sessions, can talk about communications from different views. They can share what's worked in the past and what's fallen short. Then, ask the team to write the new organizational standard for effective communication. Coach them on ways to make it crisp and meaningful.
Once the team has decided on a final version, professional communicators can polish it – but not change the meaning or spirit of the team's intent – and share it with the organization.
With this new guideline, every leader, every department and every employee can share in the responsibility of communicating effectively, and not simply lay it at the feet of corporate communications.