Communicators: Tacticians or Influencers?

This is the beginning of an important conversation and I want to hear what you think.

There is a direct correlation between exceptional communication leadership and an organization’s ability to achieve its business goals. But, as we all know, there are many companies that consider comms an afterthought in critical business decisions.

As I partner with companies to help them identify the most effective communications leader for their organization, I first want to understand how the executive team views the function. I use this simple chart to illustrate the two types of organizations I see most often.

Strategic Tactical IllustrationStrategic vs Tactical

When communications is viewed as a strategic business partner, the leader of the function has a different level of accountability to the CEO. Uniquely positioned to provide guidance and feedback based on internal and external stakeholder perspectives, comms is often the one delivering the tough messages the executive team needs to hear. By simply asking, “Have you thought about this?” and talking through the “What Ifs,” the conversation is elevated to a higher level, driving a robust decision-making process and better business outcomes.

Of course, once the communications strategy is determined, the team must implement the plan and tactics. Their ability to do so is strengthened when the strategic vision is shared with a clear understanding of the business results that are expected.

Investment vs cost

Communications as an investment vs. a cost is a powerful paradigm for organizations. Investing in effective communication strategies is not just about how the external world perceives a brand, but how deeply employees are engaged. Recruitment, retention, culture, and change are all directly affected by measurable communication efforts.

Performance vs Compliance

Finally, when a company has invested in a strategic communications team, the likelihood of that organization performing at a higher level is significant. When communications is approached from a obligation mindset, messages may fall flat, and trust and transparency is called into question.   According to the Change and Communication ROI Study conducted by Towers Watson, companies with high effectiveness in change management and communication are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform their industry peers than firms that are not effective in these areas.

Now, over to you: please share your thoughts. As a comms leader, which side of the chart are you operating on? Where does your organization sit? What shift has to occur to make Communications a strategic business partner in your company? #CommsShift