Global Insights Into the Need for Upgrading Communicators’ Planning and Strategy Skills
by Daven Rosener
Plan the work, and then work the plan. It’s an old saying, but it seems more and more communicators are just doing the work and skipping the planning part – and not always by their own choice.
A planned and purposeful effort is perhaps the best way communicators can make sure their work is efficient and effective. It can help communicators cleanly draw a dividing line between waste-of-time activities and value-added contributions that strengthen their organizations and careers.
While there are likely many reasons why communicators may not be planning their work, to get a better understanding we
focused a key research question on the discipline of building the communication plan itself. With the goal of informing the development of an online training course to help communication professionals strengthen their communication planning skills, we asked a very specific research question:
When it comes to creating communication plans, what is the single biggest challenge you've been struggling with at your workplace?
One thing is clear – only one out of 357 communicators from around the world said they really didn’t have any challenges when building communication plans at their workplace. Unfortunately, struggle, in one form or another, was a consistent theme in much of the remaining 356 responses.
The communication plan itself provides an interesting lens through which to view the challenges faced by communicators in their professional lives. Here are some of the highlights of the research:
More Support & Engagement Please – Communicators identified that their function and the need for communication planning wasn’t always well understood or supported. The relationships with their clients and leadership were challenging, as a result. This, by far, was the largest challenge surfaced by communicators (two out of every five respondents).
We Don’t Like Being Late to the Party – The issue of time – whether not having enough time or frustration about being invited to join projects too late in the process – was voiced by one out of every five communicators. Daily work lives are stressed as a result.
Business Problem Solving – Failing to understand the business objective for the communication plan to begin with was also a prevalent issue with respondents. Communicators also identified jumping to tactics and not extracting clear business objectives from business owners.
Plan Structure & Organization – Differentiating between objectives, strategies and tactics was raised by multiple communicators, as those concepts “mean different things to different people.” They expressed challenges in properly organizing the components and format of a plan into a cohesive, working document.
Investing in the work of communication planning and the ability to use strategic muscles to solve business problems offers communicators clear benefits to communications professionals – both in managing their careers and creating business success.
The research affirmed the need for more in-depth and practical training for communicators – whether through mentors or more structured learning. While one can learn a lot from struggle, it is not always the best path to success, especially when a communications professional may not have a mentor or formal training to guide them.
Removing all the barriers and challenges faced by communicators won’t happen overnight. However, professionals can move the needle toward reduced friction and increased support and engagement, one communication plan at a time.
Each communication plan offers a practical path away from the communicator’s desk and into the core of the business where problems are identified, and solutions are discovered. This is where the communicator can become a business problem solver and a strategic resource to leaders.
To learn more about the insights from these communicators, including observations and recommendations about how communicators can strengthen their communication planning muscles, click here.
Disrupting the Function of IC
A Global Perspective
With the participation of 30 experts from 6 continents, Disrupting the Function of IC – A Global Perspective takes a realistic yet critical look at the practice of internal communication.
Daven Rosener is a corporate communications instructor and provides online course. He is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators and the owner/founder of GreenMegaphone, a communications firm located in Tacoma, Washington.