There’s an art to conveying opportunities, issues, and changes to your workforce—it requires strategic and proactive communication.
Communicating strategically and proactively might seem like obvious leadership skills, but research disagrees—not enough leaders understand what good communication is, nor do they know how to execute it:
- In a survey of 1,000 employees, 91 percent expressed their leaders lack good communication skills.
- Ineffective communication costs small companies $420,000 a year. This number jumps to $64.2 million for larger companies.
Good communicators take a strategic and proactive approach. Communicating strategically requires thoughtful planning and execution to help your workforce maximize their full potential. And especially today, when the COVID-19 pandemic has driven uncertainty and volatility, communication must not be overlooked.
With that said, let’s dive into how to communicate strategically and proactively at your organization.
What Does It Mean to Communicate Strategically?
Communicating strategically involves leaders who encourage workforce members to live up to their mission and values. Leaders fulfill this by aligning their team members’ expectations and behaviors with organizational goals.
Communicating strategically aims to inform individuals in a way that enables them to:
- Understand how the issue or change affects them
- Understand what type of action they need to take to fulfill expectations and goals
- Feel motivated to strengthen their professional relationships and help build a high-performing work environment
Why Is Communicating Strategically and Proactively Important in an Organization?
Whether you’re managing a team of employees or executive leaders, communicating strategically and proactively is important for the following reasons:
- Keeps team members informed at all times: Silos form when team members are not informed on matters that pertain to them. Silos threaten workplace cohesion and engagement and can weaken the perception of the leadership team. Communicating strategically and proactively keeps everyone on the same page and illustrates the company’s respect toward its workforce. This respect can build trust between leaders and workforce members.
- Empowers individuals to work toward common objectives: Communicating strategically helps team members of all levels understand how their role impacts organizational goals. This unites workforce members as they work toward common objectives.
The Benefits of Communicating Strategically: What the Research Says
Businesses with leaders who successfully communicate strategically are more likely to develop a high-performing workforce. Research conveys that companies highly effective at spearheading strategic communications and change management are:
- Two times more likely to outperform their competitors
- More likely to experience a boost in organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and productivity
- Able to earn a 19.4 percent higher marketing premium than their counterparts
3 Ways Leaders Can Communicate Strategically and Proactively
Leaders can communicate strategically and proactively in three ways.
1. Provide the Big Picture
Many leaders are skilled at explaining what is happening or changing in the organization, but they often fail to provide the why and the how. In other words, why is the [issue/change] occurring, and how can team members help enhance or mitigate the situation?
Flesh out the why and the how of the situation. These elements give workforce members the big picture, allowing them to:
- Better understand the short- and long-term impacts the topic has on their roles
- Feel motivated in taking the right steps moving forward
- Feel more engaged and united with their colleagues
2. Adapt Your Communication Style to Your Audience
The Economist reported that communication barriers are often due to different communication styles. Is the style you’re employing effective for your audience?
Conduct a survey to identify communication styles in your workplace. This data will help you strategically and proactively tailor your communication to influence others better. By prioritizing your workforce’s communication style, you are taking a proactive approach to ensure your audience is set up for success.
3. Establish and Communicate a Call to Action
The conclusion of your message should entail a call to action—a statement that encourages workforce members to do something with the information you’ve given. Simply saying, “Thanks for listening,” can convey passiveness, which can trivialize the meaning and urgency of your message.
Work with your leadership team to establish a strong call to action.
Let’s say you are communicating a new initiative to your team. You may conclude with a statement that encourages team members to develop three realistic goals to achieve by the end of the quarter. These goals should align with the initiative and organizational objectives.
Bolster Your Communication Skills with CMOE
The way you communicate can either bolster or harm bottom-line performance. Set up your organization to succeed by partnering with CMOE’s Communication Skills workshop. Our workshop drives leaders to communicate strategically and proactively to build beneficial relationships. Learn more about the workshop today.