Introduction to Communication Strategy PlanCommunication at its core is a powerful tool. But you need to know how to use it. What most business gets confused about is where to start, how to proceed and what to expect from building an effective communication strategy plan. In this article, you will get all the answers.
We will not only show you the step-by-step process to map out a clear, specific and written communication strategy plan for your organization, we will also help you sort our reasons about why you should do the same.
The spiritual teacher Osho made a remark when he was asked why he was very prolific while talking about his own talents and abilities. He said
– If I won’t scream about my own talents, who else will? If I won’t do it how people would get to know that I can help them with my resources and capacities?
If you’re wondering why you need a communication strategy plan, it’s because of this – no one would get to know about you until you tell them in a manner that they can understand. Being casual about your communication with internal and external stakeholders is easy. But that doesn’t maximize the value of your business.
If you’re still thinking about why you build an effective communication strategy plan for communicating your deepest values, services, products, mission, vision to your people and customers, look at the reasons below. You would get to know why it’s utterly significant.
Reasons to build a communication strategy plan
Below are the different reasons to build a communication strategy plan:
- Agenda: A communication strategy plan helps build an agenda for an organization – why it exists, who it serves, how to serve, its mission and vision and how it plans to expand. It’s an agenda because it shows people in the organization about how they should execute the plans and where they need to reach. The customers will also get a clear view of what they can expect from the organization in the near future.
- Strategy: Strategy is the art of deciding to go from A to B where there are significant risks involved. Thus, planning ahead about the communication strategy plan is always prudent for an organization who aims to grow. Without planning and proper communication strategy plan, the organization can’t go far in channeling the information they want to transport.
- Concurrent reminder: Building a communication strategy plan facilitates the significant attribute of reminding the internal and external stakeholders about what they’re about to do or currently doing. Its programs and re-programs the mind of the individuals involved in the process and unifies them for a common purpose.
- Disclosure: No business can stand in a vacuum. They’re responsible for their actions and as everything affects everything, each of their moves affects the society directly or indirectly. So, the purpose of building a great communication strategy to employees is to give a full disclosure about what the business is up to and how the business plans to grow the community and abstain from unethical practices.
These are the main four reasons for which you need to build an effective communication strategy to employees. You can also include things like reaching a larger audience, trying to fetch better markets for your products and expanding your horizon of business, but they’re secondary reasons (these reasons may not be secondary to you).
No matter whatever reason you’ve or even if you don’t have a reason to build an effective communication strategy to employees, we urge you to pay heed to the rest of the article. If properly executed, this article can change the entire communication structure of your organization.
1. Articulate the current situation
Without knowing where you stand how you would expect to get ahead and reach a certain situation where things would align with your vision. It won’t until you know where you are.
The best way to know that is to do a SWOT Analysis. It’s very simple. Take a paper and divide it into four parts and then on the first part write Strengths; under Strengths, write Weakness. On the right top hand, write Opportunities and under Opportunities, write Threats.
Take some time to enter the inputs. If you need to take the help of your peers or customer feedback’s, do the same. The more accurately you do this analysis, more beneficial your communication strategy plan would become. Know you can communicate with clarity only then when you’ve concrete and sound information. Don’t skip this step. It’s one of the most important things, to begin with.
2. Arrange a meet-up with key-stakeholders
Once you have your SWOT analysis done, it’s time to make some course corrections. You know your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Now, involve all the stakeholders to discuss what conclusions you reached are absolutely correct or they would like to add any inputs. If they add inputs, listen and jot down.
Then present the final conclusions after the brainstorm. If all the key-stakeholders agree to the same, plan out to sit again for developing a strategic vision. The meet-up is important because one member can’t make an organization.
We need everybody to stand aligned with the organizational development and expansion. And if you’re in an organization, working, you would know that there’s a term called Johari Window which says that there’s a dark side of us which can be depicted better by other people.
So, using the same principle, in the organization, it’s mandatory not to rely only upon your own thoughts and opinions and ask other key-people to share theirs as well.
3. Map out an ideal future for the organization
Once the key-people give their opinions and inputs, it’s time to map out an ideal future for the organization. To begin the process, write down everything that you want the organization to stand for. Imagine you’ve all the resources, people, money and talents to create a spotless future. Then write down the future as you see.
Don’t think about impossibility as of now. It’s a step where you need to think beyond your current scenario if you want to expand your business and make your mark. Don’t let the ideal vision wander in your mind. Give it shape and structure. Write it down in the same way as you see it. The business philosopher Jim Rohn queried –
“Is it possible to see the future before it exists?” He answered himself – “It’s possible to see the future before it exists. Because you can see it in your mind before it exists.
4. Etch out the vision according to priority
At this stage, it’s time to give it shape. You need to be realistic now. You need to go out and do the due diligence. If you’re in a manufacturing industry and you would like to do backward integration, think about the resources, money, and people required to do the job.
Ask yourself – Is it necessary? How valuable may it become in the long run? Sit with your SWOT. Does your SWOT depict that you have the strengths in going for this step? If yes, go ahead and if no, stop.
The most ideal way to prioritize the vision is to divide it into four parts – critical, non-critical, decisional, removal. Put all your vision in these four parts. Think long and hard.
Look at customer feedback’s, market analysis, judge the market trends and then take the opinion of key-stakeholders and then decide what things would necessarily go into the critical phase, which should go in decisional and non-critical and which you can actually remove from the vision.
5. Turn the vision into objectives
It’s time to sit with the key people of your organization. In this meet-up, you would present the division you made of your vision. Take their inputs and see whether whatever you’re thinking is in unison.
If not, why? Find out what they think. Add back certain things if they have merit and discard certain things if you feel that they can be avoided completely. Once you’re convinced about your vision and priority of that vision, it’s time to set the objectives.
Setting objectives means you need to etch out your big vision into pieces that can be achieved in 3-5 years down the line or less. It’s important to chunk down. If you don’t chunk down, the execution won’t happen and you wouldn’t be able to turn your vision into reality in near future.
6. Write down the action steps required to reach B from A
Once you’re set with the objectives, it’s time to do some ground-level work. We all know that imagination without execution is a delusion. So, it’s important to take each objective and decide the A point and B point. A is the point where we stand right now. And B is where we want to reach. We can’t reach B until we take some action steps.
It’s time to write down each action step in detail so that we can understand where to do what and how to approach the whole thing in a simple manner. Maintain a sequence and structure. Take out one page for each objective.
On the top, if it, write down the objective and then write the steps out one by one and then sequence it in order of importance. This simple structure would help taking action and would make the execution flawless.
7. Find loopholes
If you’ve read Edward de Bono’s work “The Six Hats”, it’s time to wear the black hat. Writing down actions steps is super easy. But we need to have some contingency plans to handle the whole thing prudently.
Why contingency? Because at any time things can go wrong. You may face a hell lot of obstacles along the way which will make your life miserable. And if you don’t have a plan beforehand, the only thing you’ll be able to do is to get stuck and stay idle.
Thus, plan for crises. Plan for situations where things can go bad. Plan for emergencies. Plan for obstacles. And then move ahead with the next step.
8. Set deadlines
Once you clearly see the black spots in turning your vision into reality, it’s time to give it more meaning. The organization can’t expand without deadlines. Someone said so beautifully – There are no unrealistic goals, rather unrealistic deadlines.
So, it’s time to set deadlines for each action step you’ve etched out before. Be specific, be realistic and add buffer to each deadline (at least 20% of the original time you thought would take the task to complete).
9. Attribute resources and responsibilities and share
Now you’ve got a whole list of things in your hand. You have already set the objectives, chunked them down into specific action steps, found the obstacles you may face a long and set deadlines for each task.
Now it’s time to attribute the resources and find out people who can do the task. This is the most critical part of building an effective communication strategy to employees. The way you share the responsibilities will tell a lot about how you would like the plans to get implemented.
Most people think that communication strategies are a separate thing, but it’s deeply aligned with an organization’s mission, vision, objectives, goals, and implementation. In each step, you need to know how to communicate with your subordinates. So, while attributing the responsibilities, make sure they’ve all the resources available to them for implementation.
Once everything is done, ask your people to get to work according to the deadline. Create small feedback loops which help you get the feedback for each task and how it is getting implemented.
If the communication strategy to employees finds it difficult to implement, find out reasons why. Is it an issue in regards to resources/abilities/clarity/communication? And then take the necessary steps to change it. Implementation is very significant because without this the whole communication plan would go in vain.
10. Bonus tip – Take corrective measures
This step is more about receiving feedbacks and creating an open-door policy where people can come and meet their supervisors at any time and can discuss their issues while implementation. If the employees are not motivated and don’t know the bigger purpose of a small task, it’s the responsibility of the supervisor to teach the employees and motivate them to act.
These supervisors also need to report to their managers and then managers would report to senior managers and so on and so forth. This will create an effective feedback system which is very important for taking corrective measures as the employees go on implementing the task assigned to them.
Communication strategy plan is not a separate thing. The purpose of strategic communications is inherent in the essence of setting the goals of the organization and achieving them with maximum success.
Thus, if an organization can implement the above, then it wouldn’t be a problem to build an effective communication strategy to employees throughout the organization and then the same transparency would infect the external stakeholders as well.
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Here are some articles that will help you to get more detail about the communication strategy plan so just go through the link.