Oct 3, 2013

Lessons Learned: Nonprofit Organizations, Part II

Previously, I began talking about lessons we internal communications leaders can learn from nonprofit organizations. Click here to read previous blog entry. Here are remaining lessons to consider.

Be sure to share your thoughts!

Using a multi-channel, multi-audience approach to communicate and connect
This is something we see particularly in faith-based institutions. Because you often have multiple generations connected with that institution, organizations realize they must communicate in every way. These nonprofits are very focused on how information moves down and throughout the organization. A single message looks very different communicated to young adults and baby boomers in the language and channels they prefer. The intended recipients, the audience, become the driver for how information is communicated.

Taking a strength-based approach to harnessing the skills of the collective
Nonprofits, the good ones, are masters at identifying and utilizing the strengths of the people familiar with the organization. Because there are often finite resources, leaders try to determine what people enjoy and empower them to do something impactful for the organization based on that strength. This creates a strong value proposition. For volunteer recruitment, the message is, here you can take what you’re passionate about and do it here. This is a bottom-up approach of empowering people to impact their organizations. This grassroots approach connects with people in the for-profit worlds as well.

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Sep 19, 2013

Lessons Learned: Nonprofit Organizations

As communications leaders, we have our work cut out for us. Delivering impact and value is only compounded with the need we have to demonstrate our actual value. With this task in mind, I think there are lessons we can learn from other business functions and organization types. I’m thinking about IT, HR, Nonprofit Organizations, Political Campaigns, etc.

I’d like to examine a few of these. Let’s kick it off with nonprofit and faith-based organizations.

Nonprofits are unique organizations in that they live and breathe by people’s desire and commitment to be engaged without pay. I’m talking about volunteers. Nonprofits are well aware of the critical role that volunteers play and so they take engagement very seriously. For us, our employees should be looked at in similar ways. Yes, they get paid. But at the end of the day, the success of the company is contingent on how engaged they are; how much they decide to commit to achieving results for the company. They want to see the company succeed when they believe in it and are connected to it. What are we doing to ensure that?

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Aug 27, 2013

Increasing leadership accountability for communication: Part III

This month, I’ve been offering keys to help leaders support internal communications efforts. As we know, leadership buy-in is critical in order for us to develop, plan and successfully execute internal communications programs. So then, how do we get it? As a reminder, the first four keys are:

1: Start with the PROOF
2: Establish communications PURPOSE & OBJECTIVES
3: Talk about Guiding PRINCIPLES
4: Identify the PARTNERSHIPS

And finally, Key 5: Define key communications PROCESSES

Leaders understand process. That is how they think. Help them understand the core processes of communications in terms of repeatable routines and patterns for how and when communications should happen. This way, they get a tangible understanding of how they will be involved and what to expect in terms of frequency (monthly, daily, quarterly) and channels (town halls, email, blogging, etc.).

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Aug 12, 2013

Increasing leadership accountability for communication: Part II

So how do leaders support internal communications efforts? How can we, as internal communications leaders, help them help us? In the previous post, I shared the first two keys to increasing leadership accountability. Let’s discuss keys three and four.

Key 3: Talk about Guiding PRINCIPLES: Consistency is key in communication, and it can be enhanced by establishing a set of guiding principles for communication that aligns with the values, competencies, and overall leadership gravitas that needs to be portrayed by leadership for the organization. Some likely principles will involve transparency, authenticity, and honesty. However, why not push for more unique principles that align with the culture of your organization. Does face-to-face need to be a priority? Is the organization one whose communication with employees needs to be as innovative as their communication to customers? Is your organization extremely visionary?  Use this as an opportunity to shape the communication culture of the organization and to gain alignment and commitment around it at all levels.

Key 4: Identify the PARTNERSHIPS: Communications has the unique purview to connect different components of the business together for broader impact. Helping leaders see the connections within the organization – or potential misalignment in work happening – will be of interest to leaders.

For example, consider that you have two initiatives coming out in the same company: one is to improve service; the other is around simplicity. The two must be linked in order for employees to understand the overall vision, to do things better and faster but not at the sake of overcomplicating their jobs.

Use your knowledge of work and messages that need to be connected to help leaders see opportunities to drive greater collaboration, alignment, consistency, optimal use of resources, etc.

What have been your experiences? Stay tuned for Key 5 and final remarks.