Corporate strategy is a complex topic. In addition to its internal objectives to keep everyone within the organization informed, it has to fit into a larger framework that drives the organization itself forward. Integration between the two is not always easy, but absolutely crucial for long-term success.
The experience and culture communicated by and to employees is central to success. Connected members of the team who are engaged and receive the information they need to succeed tend to be more productive, happier, and more committed to your organization. To achieve that, you need more than “just” a great communications strategy. You need true alignment between corporate and comms goals.
The benefits of that alignment are multi-faceted and deserve further discussion. Once you internalize these advantages, you’re ready to begin working towards aligning your corporate goals with your communications objectives.
The Benefits of Corporate and Communications Goal Alignment
Let’s dig in. Creating a fully integrated communications strategy that aligns with your corporate goals comes with a number of benefits that are worth considering as you build out the plan:
- More comprehensive communications about your organization that can help employees be ‘in the loop.’
- Focusing your message on the content that matters most from a central business perspective.
- Streamlined and more efficient communications that eliminates channels and messages not central to core objectives.
- Adjusting communications to help employees understand and work towards short-term, quarterly goals.
Each of these deserves further consideration in its own right. Together, they make a powerful argument for alignment. With the why answered, it’s time to start talking about the how.
The Beginning: Seeking Alignment Between Corporate Goals and Comms Objectives
The first step in goal alignment is simple. It prioritizes a simple awareness that this step is needed, not just by key communicators within the business but also within senior leadership across the organization. An emphasis on the benefits, such as the ones outlined below, can be a crucial start.
Next, it makes sense for the communications team to get a seat at the goal-setting table. Even when not directly involved in setting these goals, they can receive core information about the strategic direction of the business and begin to plan out communications objectives accordingly.
All of that stands under the umbrella of making sure senior leadership within the organization understands the value of communication. As researchers at the University of Pennsylvania pointed out,
Despite the obvious importance of communications, there is indeed much enduring truth to the threadbare cliché that the discipline is seldom among the top priorities of CEOs and other leaders. The principal reason for this seems to be that CEOs and others regard communications as too “soft,” lacking well-defined, tangible parameters and outcomes
Studies show that many business leaders are not quite there yet. Convincing them about the importance of internal communication in achieving business goals tends to be the first step in beginning to seek that alignment and getting your comms expert a seat at the goal-setting table.
The Center: Creating a Fully Aligned Internal Communications Plan
The stage is set for alignment. Now, it’s time to get specific. Every effective communications department sets effective goals. With a seat at the goal-setting table or at least within the inner circle, you can build out these comms goals accordingly.
Corporate goals tend to focus on business growth, efficiencies, and similar objectives. Your communications strategy cannot accomplish these goals in isolation. It can, however, play a core role in making sure your employees know about and embrace these goals:
- Communicate business goals clearly and early with employees who will work on them. An engaged salesperson who knows about the overall goal in new customers for the quarter will work harder to play a role in achieving it.
- Communicate achievements as they occur. When your organization reaches or surpasses a goal, let others know about it. Celebrating corporate successes should be a core part of every internal comms strategy.
- Create open communications channels. In addition to simply pushing out one-way messages, an effective internal communications plan also includes a feedback loop. Listen to employees’ questions, comments, and concerns, then see how they might integrate into future goal-setting sessions.
- Take time to explain and provide context behind the business goals. If growth is your focus, why? What is the competition doing, and how is the environment helping (or hurting) that growth?
- Give your employees early access to new external-facing efforts. A new marketing campaign, first seen by your employees, might help you create the buzz you need once it launches, thanks to built-in, empowered influencers from across your brand.
Building this plan isn’t easy. For each communications objective you set, you have to make sure that you can relate it back to an individual corporate goal. A seat at the table of setting these goals and understanding the context behind them yourself needs to be a core part of that effort.
The Finale: Gain Leadership Buy-In on Communications Goals
The final step is perhaps the most important. Just as you need to get buy-in on the general value of communications in the goal-setting process at the start, you need buy-in on the communications plan at the executive level in the end. It’s the only way to make sure that your communications are effectively implemented and stay aligned with larger business objectives.
Ideally, the initial buy-in has already convinced the C-Suite about the general value of internal comms. But the work is not done here. Next, you also need to get them to understand your communications goals, and exactly how they align to business objectives.
One tactic that has proven successful is emphasizing the hazards of poor communications. Relay notes on how miscommunications can lead to misinformed and unproductive employees. Show examples where communication went wrong, and how alignment could have fixed the issue.
Of course, platforms also matter. You have to make sure that as you get buy-in for the goals, you also get the same level of buy-in for the platforms through which the communications will occur. That might well include an intranet. When you’re ready to start talking about the implementation of your communications strategy, contact us.