You’ve done all the work to establish your strategic plan and team priorities for culture, learning, and ways of operating. And 6 months in they have yet to gain traction. What happened? We often see the best laid plans thwarted without a consistent drumbeat of excitement, progress, and steering from leaders.
A robust rhythm of the business (ROB) also includes communication cadences. This is typically done as a step in your ROB development. While you’re establishing a foundational rhythm of the business, you should also determine how your comms can bolster your business objectives.
Think of this as a two part project:
- Document the current state of your executive comms landscape
- Implement new comms to achieve your business objectives & center your OKRs
You can leverage internal organizational communication to reinforce vision, goals, and rhythms. If you have the resources, you can integrate these steps into the initial development of your ROB.
Document your current landscape
Similarly to how you documented the current landscape of your ROB and calendar, you’ll dissect all your current communications with their audience, cadence, channel, and content.z
Consider not only asynchronous communications, but also where there are regular opportunities for face-to-face communication.
Make a list or build a table to track your findings. If you notice gaps, write them down. Additionally, if you see opportunities, flag them.
In our example below, we worked with a COS at a $200 billion software company overhaul her communications. We marked opportunities with a star icon to indicate where we could improve communications to explicitly accomplish some of the leader’s goals.
For example, our leader is extremely charismatic, so there was an opportunity to build in a visual video element into her weekly top-of-mind posts.
Root comms in your business objectives
Your new comms rhythms will help you accomplish your business objectives, and then some.
- ROB — consistent, predictable, simple
- Leader brand — driving strong results, managing a happy team
- Culture — strong, connected, supported
- Time management — maximize effectiveness, minimize # of meetings
You’ll use comms to tie everything together, while also creating connection with your team as you shine a light on priorities, progress, and achievements. They allow you to make contributions and celebrations visible, both up and down the organization. By communicating in a simple, consistent, and predictable way they also build confidence and trust.
The objectives you define for your comms work should mirror your business objectives.
Establish core comms principles
Establish a set of principles that will help drive your comms decisions as you develop your new rhythms. These principles should be “evergreen” and used for all comms decisions moving forward.
For a large software company looking to focus on priorities, build trust, and improve team culture:
- Clockwork: Establish predictable rhythm for one-to-many communications (e.g. monthly snapshot, weekly top-of-mind post)
- Brevity: Say more with less
- Priorities: Communicate consistently about priorities in the context of your OKRs & ROB
- Contributions: Highlight IC & team contributions like key milestones, successes & innovation and its value to the business
Optimize your comms
Before you completely overhaul your internal comms plan, think about where you can take advantage of what you’re already doing. Use your current state documentation as a guide to get started.
Add more predictability and consistency. Create realistic timing expectations and commit to sticking to them. Use your new core principles to drive your communications by consistently highlighting OKRs & priorities, progress, and wins.
Model vulnerability and growth. Your communications should be real and authentic.
- Share the good, the bad, and the ugly through candid storytelling and anecdotes
- Connect with your team during key moments (times of crisis, recognition days, etc.)
- Help employees learn outside of formal training
Leaders are often magnetic, so look for ways to bond with your team through moments of informal connection. These don’t have to be as structured or planned and can consist of lessons learned, opportunities for improvement, or personal anecdotes.
Internal messaging platforms like Microsoft Teams or Slack make it easy to send these types of comms. You can also leverage visual elements like graphics or videos. And don’t forget recurring face-to-face opportunities.
Leverage your team to share their own lessons and learnings. Make your communications collaborative so that more people are bought-in.
Implement your new comms plan
Start by determining which recurring communication pieces will become sacred. Typically, these include pass-downs, monthly updates, and holidays or days of recognition.
- Define your audience, cadence, and channel
- Determine the content and format
- Determine the sources for your content (if any)
- Schedule time blocks on your calendar to ensure comms are written & posted/sent on a regular basis
Some of your sacred comms will have a collaborative element to them. In those cases, you will build a workback schedule that can be used as a template from cycle to cycle as well as any forms or templates needed for content collection.
For example, a monthly snapshot will have various content sources. Use your workback schedule to define each action that must be taken to produce the monthly snapshot along with an owner for that action and a due date. Actions could include a call for updates, compilation, draft reviews, etc.
If your monthly snapshot collects content from your team, have a set process for asking for that content. You can do this by creating an intake form or scheduling a reminder in Slack.
These workback schedules & forms or templates should be up-to-date and easy to find by all the owners.
Ad hoc comms
There is a growing list of challenges to employee health and wellbeing: public health crises, war, human rights violations, racism, threats on LGBTQIA+ community, layoffs, climate change, loss of reproductive rights, regional and local crises. You name it.
In times of crisis, you will want to connect with your team and demonstrate empathy. And you’ll be required to do it quickly.
The goal of these communications is to:
- Give your team room to be their authentic, whole selves
- Be helpful to employees in times of crisis
- Demonstrate your and the company’s commitment to a better world
Our recommendation is that you have a process in place for getting these comms out as quickly and efficiently as possible before the next crisis.
- Establish a “rapid response” commitment and process to connect with employees
- Know who will draft and who will post — yourself or someone in your office
- Reinforce (and leverage) messaging from above you — CEOs and other leaders, peers, etc.
- Identify issues important to you as a leader to communicate about proactively (before corporate comms)
- Demonstrate empathy
- Offer helpful resources
- Allow open dialogue by welcoming employee input, feedback, and ideas
Effective communication is crucial for the success of any organization and directly impacts how your rhythm of the business is made visible to your team and company at large.
When a communications plan is predictably implemented, it enhances coordination, efficiency, and the overall success of the business.