Strategic Communication: Becoming an Asset in the Workplace

January 1, 2015

 

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to be better at your job.  While it’s super general, most don’t really know how to accomplish this goal.  What it really comes down to is your unique value to others and how you can become an asset.

The most important value of Strategic Communication is its ability to support and assist other people’s decision-making processes.

The greatest difficulty facing decision makers is the lack of resources available to support their decision-making process:  Information, Time to analyze that information, and Analytical Ability (see below: “The Decision Maker’s Dilemma”– the source of these challenges).

The Decision Maker’s Dilemma: 4 key steps to effective decision making):

  1. Define objective(s) in a tangible and objectively measurable way.

  2. Identify and generate as many different alternative paths that lead to the defined objective(s).

  3. Select preferred paths.

  4. Execute!

Strategic Communication is about you becoming a valuable resource for your environment in dealing with this process.

If you become a resource, supporting the decision makers with these challenges, you are likely to turn (in their eyes) from a mere Service Provider to a Consultant or even a Business Partner.

  • As a provider, you are perceived as a drain on your client’s resources, making you an inherently unwelcome agent.

  • As a business partner/consultant, you are perceived as an addition to your client’s resources.  You are a resource, making you a welcome agent!

Basic Principles of Strategic Communication:
Manage Expectations – Understand the objectives (beyond your own).  See and relate to the bigger picture.
Be Solution-Oriented (not problem-oriented!) – Understand, relate to, and generate additional possible courses of action.  Avoid focusing on the past or spending too much time describing the present.  Do so by:

  • Addressing the future

  • Being positive and proactive – even when you have questions, come prepared with possible answers or with your own recommendations on how to best go about finding the answers to these questions.

  • Be analytical not descriptive – present your analysis, or the simple context of the data you want to present BEFORE you present the data itself.

Remove Barriers and Bottlenecks – Simplify the ability to receive and internalize your message by:

  • Prioritizing what you have to say – every word you speak is a resource your listener is allocating to you.  Make sure your message generates a value greater than the value of the resource spent listening to you.

  • Pay attention to Logical Sequence – make sure the inner structure of your message make sense.  Make sure each part of your message builds on the previous parts.  Try to make the order of your message be in sync with the questions occupying your listener as they come up in his/her mind as they listen to you.

  • Distinguish between WORK (=process/”how”) and PRODUCT (=desired outcome/”what”) – this is an extension of the previous point:  present your conclusions and/or recommendations before you present your evidence.

Now go ahead and actually keep your resolution this year. Strive to become an asset and a big influencer at your job!

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