When an executive asks you to jump, do you respond, “How high?” Could you ever imagine responding with “Why?”
As our content deliverer Rick likes to say, “Sure, you can imagine that…On your last day with the company.”
Executives bombard Communications with requests to write speeches, build town hall presentations, craft memos, and orchestrate engagement campaigns. Eager to show how high they can jump, communicators get caught “doing communication” for leaders. As a result, leaders never get good at communication and communicators run themselves ragged.
We think Communications can fight back! Politely, of course.
Follow this three-step communication triage process to help recondition leaders understanding of communication and shift their expectations of the type of support that Communications can deliver.
1. Preparation: Connect to Business Objective
In the upfront part of the triage process, your goal is to connect the leader communication request to a business objective. By asking consultative questions, you will begin to recondition a leaders’ communication thought process. No longer will mass communication after a decision be a given. Instead, the leader will be forced to think about communication
- Sample triage question: What are you trying to achieve and why is it so important?
- Access the full Communications Triage Process for the other 2 preparation questions
2. Creation: Enable Audience Action
In an old age where one-to-many communication was received, understood, and (maybe) acted upon by stakeholders, your work would be nearly done after the preparation phase. Now, however, a leaders’ (or any person communicating) role is not simply to inform an audience, but to influence that audience to take an action in support of the desired business goal. So, once you’ve helped an executive hone in on why it makes sense to communicate a specific message at the desired moment, you’ll need to prompt them to think about why exactly would the recipient of the message care and what should the recipient of the message do.
- Sample triage question: What do you want the audience to do as a result of this communication?
- Access the full Communications Triage Process for the other 2 creation questions
3. Delivery: Provoke Dialogue
Leaders used to have all the answers, or at least that’s what you would have thought by looking at their communication! Their speeches were directive, focused on instilling trust, and left no room for interpretation, let alone questions. Today, information is ubiquitous and leaders readily admit they don’t have answers, just educated guesses. In this environment, leaders must act as catalysts at their organizations by sharing information that equips employees to make decisions. To help your leaders begin to see their role as catalyst, not spokesperson, ask them to consider ways in which their communication will provoke dialogue among the organization.
- Sample triage question: What question do you want the audience to ask themselves after the communication?
- Access the full Communications Triage Process for the other 2 delivery questions
CEC Related Resources
- Help Leaders to Communicate with Employees
- Help Leaders to Empower their Teams through Communication
- Create Forums for Direct, Candid Interactions between Employees and Executives
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