We’ve all felt the effects of poor communication. Noisy inboxes full of everything except the things you’re actually looking for, unclear priorities that are talked about inconsistently, a lack of coordination within and between teams…
Effective communication is crucial for the success of any sized team, and leaders play a key role in fostering upward and downward communication.
A robust communication plan is essential for creating a well-informed, engaged, and aligned organizational culture. When it’s predictably implemented, it enhances coordination, efficiency, and the overall success of the business.
Additionally, we’ve seen that leaders are able to own their comms plan from end to end. This means that unlike other rhythms there is a high level of autonomy when rolling out these processes, so getting it off the ground requires a lower level of coordination.
When it comes to internal comms, there are a few common objectives that show up with every team we’ve worked with.
- Drive culture priorities
- Shift from employee awareness to knowledge
- Build credibility for leadership & the org
In a recent example, a CMO joined a $200 billion technology company that lacked a standardized internal structure for leader & team comms. As a leader whose skills include connection and charisma, she wanted to ensure her team had clarity on priorities and progress being made by their peers.
Together with the CMO, the team at Sparklos developed a custom 45-day Communications Plan that clearly outlined a strategy and tactics to ensure a successful comms cadence.
The plan was predictable & consistent, while also ensuring the team felt recognized & appreciated for the work they do.
We did so through a series of simplified strategies:
- Deliver a quarterly messaging framework and calendar that would demonstrate value & leadership, drive key messages consistently, and share compelling evidence.
- Center core themes like rhythm of the business, priorities, progress, and wins while modeling vulnerability and growth mindsets.
- Deliver a weekly top-of-mind communications and a holistic monthly snapshot that demonstrated value, wins, and learnings.
By establishing a predictable, proactive set of communications, we were able to drive team culture priorities while also establishing the leader brand on the team & outside of the org.
Communication Plans are highly customized based on organization and leader brand, but there are a few tried and true tactics to harness when you first start getting your plan off the ground.
Below, we outline a few of the more universal tactics utilized in the Clockwork piece that you should consider to start communicating better with and about your team.
An easy first step is to establish a predictable rhythm for one-to-many communications through a set of recurring messages. While we’ve seen variation here, a core set of comms might be a monthly snapshot, a weekly top-of-mind message, and recaps for big events.
1️⃣ Your monthly review should elevate the work of your team by representing their performance & impact to executives. It also demonstrates leadership and helps your team feel recognized & valued for their contributions.
A few steps for getting your monthly comm off the ground:
- Determine your audience: Clearly define which stakeholders are your primary audience as well as a list of who else will be copied. Keep in mind — while your team should receive the review in their inboxes, they are not the primary audience.
- Clearly define the objective: Make sure your team understands the objective behind the monthly review. For example, we are demonstrating our performance & value, not our activity. Note — you will heavily rely on input from your leadership team, so their buy-in ensures the quality of data & info submitted.
- Outline the content & format: Create a high-level outline to use as a template for each monthly comm. This will expedite input & compilation but will also give your recipients a familiar format to consume each month. Your outline might include an executive summary on business performance, how your team drove value, and key results by function.
- Establish an intake process: Create a process for your LT (or potentially ICs) to submit content for the monthly review. Clearly outline expectations and a timeline for submission. Lastly, make sure this process is the same every month — timing, asks, form/platform, etc. Also consider pulling content from existing channels or processes like recurring Slack passdowns, weekly team updates, or team meeting agendas.
- Establish a publishing process: Determine owners for this step and make sure everyone is on the same page about when and how it will be pushed through the door. Ideally, you’ll put together a workback schedule that runs reliably every month. Determine channel or platform for publishing, recipient list, review cycle, and who will press send.
While reviews are published once monthly, we’ve seen the drafting and publishing process take anywhere from two weeks to the full month to get done. The speed at which you’ll need to publish will depend on many factors from how operationally efficient your team is to how quickly your business changes. Keep in mind that as you mature in your rhythms as a team, this process will get easier and quicker.
2️⃣ Weekly top-of-mind posts deliver high value with little lift. As leaders, your comms should hold significance, stand apart, and be readily distinguishable from communications from others on the team. Focus on strategic issues, news, and insights from your unique leadership perspective.
Here are some of the pieces of content we recommend sharing with your team on a weekly basis:
- Important information, insights, and passdowns from executives & management
- Team priorities & strategic decisions
- Business performance & results
- Insights about the business, industry, competitors, and customers
- Corporate news and announcements with added color
- Recognition of excellence on the team
The types of content you include and the granularity of it will depend on how you lead your team and what the business landscape looks like at your org. One important note is that this comm should be sacred and predictable.
Weekly comms allow you to connect with your team creatively — there is so much room for leaders to put their stamp on them. Don’t shy away from including short details on family or weekend plans for added connection. Depending on org culture, you can leverage emails, internal messaging platforms like Teams or Slack, or even videos to deliver your weekly updates.
3️⃣ Consider sending recaps within 48 hours of big events. These help solidify and make visible the contributions, successes, and learnings from big events. They also aid in recognition and promote team culture priorities.
Defining what a “big event” is depends on your industry. For example, for marketing teams a big event might be a conference the team planned & executed. While engineering teams may consider a product launch a big event.
Either way, recaps help the team feel a sense of accomplishment and pride and should be delivered speedily when possible. Make sure to allow space for reflection & celebration, as well as learnings.
Our key takeaway was that sharing the good, bad, & the ugly through candid storytelling and connecting with employees in key moments not only fostered learning outside of formal training & built the leader’s reputation, but also led to higher employee satisfaction through connection & recognition.