It has been fifteen months since the acquisition of my company occurred. The amount of change has been inexorable – some positive and some negative, depending on the lens through which you see your life. Without giving everything away, this has been a year of sticking it out, seeing through the change, and making it work. It still surprises me when I look back to joining the company over three years ago, and assess where we I am today. Sometimes I think ‘who would have thought?’
Through the many types of changes I experienced this year I have seen strong and transparent communications become a priority. In addition, understanding the team member needs has been of the upmost importance as well. One of the first things that our new company did was to survey both pre-acquisition companies to understand their culture, and identify what values were the most important to them. How cool is that to be a part of the company that values their team members!
During this time, I have been reflecting on why having a communication professional on your team is so important during such times. Our team members have been going through a consistent and non-stop amount of change – new processes, new teams, new leaderships, new technology…the list goes on and on. I find communication professionals are vital to the success of the business: driving internal team member engagement, creating key messaging, supporting executives and their teams, and being an approachable, listening ear through times of change.
There are two important and specific ways that communication professionals can support their teams and executives through times of change. The first is through creating messages and making decisions that are audience-centric. The strategies you design and the campaigns you plan should be targeted at addressing the needs of the person reading, watching, and participating in your communication efforts. How can you do this and become more aware of your audience’s wants and needs? Here are a few ways:
- Ask them! Create an annual communication survey to receive valuable feedback that shapes your plans and programs.
- Create regular touch points. Meet and consult with stakeholders from your business regularly to have a dialogue about upcoming communications, share best practices, and most importantly listen to what is going on within their teams.
- Build relationships. Become a presence within your organization – one that has an open door policy, loves creative ideas, and has empathy.
The second role that a communication professional should play is to be a strategic advisor to your executives and teams. Being a strategic advisor means that you use your experience mastering the art of communication to advise your stakeholders on the best ways to communicate, whether that be how to create a vision deck for the year, how to host an engaging all-hands meeting, or how to plan and promote an event. Some of the key ways to do this are through creating a strong portfolio of work, building a relationship of trust, and by being yourself!
I count myself very lucky to love what I do, and I hope that some of these ideas are relevant to other communicators and business professionals alike. I’d love to hear from you!