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We’re about to go basic here. But it does need to be said. Bear with me.
Anyone can communicate. Not everyone communicates well. Many things prevent effective communication — mostly in the form of listening.
People listen to be polite but hear nothing the other person said. Or they criticize the person speaking, rather than focussing on the conversation at hand.
Why? Because we want to assert how right we are. It has nothing to do with the actual discussion, just about proving the other person wrong.
In business, this won’t work. Communicating incorrectly means someone will become confused. Maybe even a little angry. Work pace will slow down. Customers may become conflicted because they don’t understand what’s happening.
We can’t let it get so far that ineffective communication kills the business from the inside out. You need a communications strategy.
So let’s get to it.
1. Add the purpose or goal of communication
It can be simple, like informing a business associate you’re changing suppliers. You’ve both been thinking of using someone who can provide a discount your current supplier can’t. The only problem is, the new supplier’s location is further from headquarters. And their shipping methods are limited.
There are upsides and downsides. But overall the change will be positive for the company. You just need to explain this to the associate.
You have a communications goal — how to communicate effectively with associates and suppliers. Write that down. It’s the start of your strategy.
2. Write your situation
What is happening right now? What does your firm (or yourself if this is a one person show) do? How do you already communicate and is it working as is?
Analysis can help you narrow this section down. We’ve got you covered with the many options. You can do several analyses or just hand pick a few — so long as they work for you.
SWOT analysis is one of the more simple, but powerful methods.
It’s about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You can do a communication SWOT analysis and answer the questions…
- What are your communication strengths?
- What are your communication weaknesses?
- What opportunities exist to make communication better?
- And what threatens the methods in which you communicate?
SWOT analysis can be your opener while you visit other types of analysis. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
3. Your objectives go here
What are your company’s goals? Forego concentrating on communications right now. Instead, rewrite what your company does.
- What is your mission statement?
- What services does your business provide?
- What are your immediate and long term goals for the company?
Your communications strategy should benefit these goals.
Now, what communication is necessary to complete these goals? For example, if you’re trying to increase customer retention you’d want to communicate with the customers rather than to the customers. This means two-way communication through the use of surveys, polls, or email.
At this point in your communications strategy, you can create communication goals. They should overlap company goals to a degree.
When you put it altogether…
Write down communication goals. You can answer a few questions, such as…
- Why are you using these current communication methods?
- How are customers/employees responding to these communication methods?
- What do you what to communicate effectively?
Then, write down where you are currently. If the workload is about to explode, how many employees do you have currently? Why is this not enough? This is where you’d insert analysis to highlight key issues and strengths in the current situation.
Now think about these situations and how you communicate. Is your message being well received? Are people not doing as they’re told — and is this a communication issue from both sides? With your situation highlighted, you must also recognize how you’re communicating and if it is well received.
And here, you’ll write your company’s goals. This is connected to your current situation. If you want to increase employees to handle workloads, how must your communication methods be updated? Or if you’re shifting budgets around, how can you communicate this to each team to keep everyone working efficiently?
Answering these questions will help you as you create an effective communications strategy. The more detailed, the better your results can be.