Much of the buzz at IABC’s recent World Conference centered on identifying ways for communication practitioners to add value and build respect among peers back home. Some went “ooh” and “aah” at the sight of the hottest new social media platforms that promised much employee “engagement,” but little in terms of results that matter to business leaders back at the office.
One of those business leaders told me recently: “Our communication people are worried about the wrong things. I tell them about a business problem I’m having and they trot out the same activities. They worry about click-throughs, opens, mentions, share of voice, awareness and retweets. I’m worried about sales and gross margin. Where can I find communication people who can help us improve our business?”
More and more communication professionals are already adopting the role of a strategic adviser who improves business results that are greater than the cost of creating the results. They’re removing communication breakdowns that impede organizational performance. They’ve moved from a focus on activities to a focus on results.
One communication pro worked with a team representing a variety of disciplines to increase sales by more than 20 percent. Another helped her company improve on-time delivery by 38 percent, which, in turn, increased sales by 30 percent.
Others have improved cycle time by 70 percent, increased productivity by 11 percent, reduced scrap and rework by 60 percent and cut turnover by more than 25 percent. There are many more stories about communication departments that are contributing to results that matter.
After more than 30 years serving in a management consulting role as a strategic adviser, here are some things I’ve learned.