Your task list only grows
New urgent things have to be done on a daily basis. You respond to emails quickly because you don’t want to hold up anybody else’s work.
You know your employee communication channels are creaking, but you don’t have the time to revamp or replace them as that would become a whole project-thing.
You’d love to say ‘no’ to ‘please send this’ requests, but showing them how to publish things themselves would take longer than just doing it. So ‘just do it’ becomes your mantra as you eat lunch at your desk, because having a meeting about processes and quality would overwhelm your team — now’s not a good time, what with all the change already going on.
You can’t remember when you weren’t firefighting.
Is there a strategy?
Is there a comms strategy? Is there an intranet strategy (that isn’t four years old and doesn’t start with ‘launch new intranet’)?
Being strategically minded is valued by most colleagues, but you have to get things done. The trick is to get the things that matter done, and have licence to avoid and delay the things that don’t truly makes things better.
But how do you, how does anyone, decide what matters?
Personally, I struggle with judgement calls about other people’s priority tasks, and I can be swayed to deprioritise my own in order to be helpful. After all, this thing is important to them, and they’ve come to me for help. Are we not all about collaboration and meaningful progress…? But stop all that!
Everything that we do should move us, the project, or the organisation closer to defined goals. Goals that are genuinely shared and clearly communicated (for the most part), and part of the specific or overall strategy. Elsewise, what are you doing? Who are you working for?
You’re definitely an expert adviser, but are you strategically minded?
There’s a cost involved to setting strategy; best to be up-front about the time needed to develop and explain a strategic direction for your team, department, overall function, or main communication platforms. Good strategy is costly because it’s valuable.
But who has time for the dull documents, the drawn-out approval processes, and the many, many meetings needed to set, agree, and understand ‘the strategy’?
Understandably this means that some would rather invest cold hard cash into strategy than time, because time and energy are so obviously undervalued and in such short supply. But a solid strategy – that’s a touchstone, that’s shared, understood, and oft discussed – directs our most valuable work. Solid strategy ensures we know what is in scope, what to delegate, what to say ‘no’ to.
Strategy is important to senior managers
The value of our comms and engagement work isn’t always immediately evident to stakeholders. They see ‘stuff happening’, hits, views, engagement scores et cetera, but they don’t directly link all that employee stuff to revenue, to costs, to new customer acquisition. Harsh, I know.
We want leaders to be involved, and we expect them to have a wide view of the organisation, but if our digital and people work is to be valued we have to be able to express that value – the outcomes – clearly enough so they get discussed in the board room.
Align your tactics to your strategy
To create value for stakeholders, audiences, customers, users, and our colleagues, we need to align our tactics to the stated strategy.
Don’t let anyone call their action plan a ‘strategy’, and never let anyone dismiss your tactics as being low value. We need high-quality tactics to achieve our strategic goals.
All of this and more is going to be discussed at our Intranet Now conference on the 4th of October, in London. You should come along – not only do we have some amazingly experienced tacticians and strategists from the Wellcome Trust, the AA, Willmott Dixon, Scottish Natural Heritage, the NHS, Standard Life Aberdeen, and Affinity Water, but we also build time into the day for your contributions and conversations.