Communication profession- als have a huge opportunity today to improve their orga- nizations’ business performance by leading change efforts in their
own work. By recognizing the key challenges facing the business, creating or
modifying communication programs
to help solve those challenges, and then
presenting the C-suite with concrete
evidence of the impact of those programs, practitioners can boost not only
their company’s performance, but also
their own stature in the organization.
At Kiewit Corp., for example, “we
prioritized the work in internal communication to shift from simply
pumping out more content to helping
operations close communication gaps
on key construction projects,” says Bob
Kula, the construction and engineering
company’s vice president of communication. “This allowed us to help the
business improve key metrics such as
safety and retention by helping leaders
mitigate language barriers, fix informa-tion-sharing breakdowns and address
other fundamental engagement issues.”
Using communication to demonstrably improve performance isn’t
something that happens overnight.
It’s a process that involves a shift in
mind-set among many people, not
just communication practitioners.
Here are eight steps that you can take
to create more business value through
1. Get leaders on board early
Most senior business leaders should
grasp the concept of performance-based
communication right away: You offer a
potential communication-based solution to a recognized business challenge.
The more value you add, the more the
leaders gain. With management’s backing, you’ll have the support you need to
move through the process.
2. Build a business case
Your goal is to convince the company’s leaders that what you do produces
more good for your customers and
shareholders than it costs. To do this,
you need to include a value proposition
in your business case: a statement that
summarizes how you will add value for
your customers—the people who buy
your company’s products and services.
It also should clarify the work you will
do and won’t do. This helps the organization understand what you’re changing and what will remain the same.
For instance, one of our clients who
went through this process stated that
the communication function would
only do work that:
• Increases the impact of strategy
• Strengthens leadership communication skills.
• Creates early wins in high-impact
• Generates a better return on investment for formal communication
The client then explained what the
communication function would no
longer do, which included work that:
• Has no clear connection to executing
the strategy or realizing the vision.
• Doesn’t change the way people do
their work to create better results.
• Can’t be measured.
• Doesn’t promise a sustainable business impact (no sugar buzzes).
• Isn’t integrated with other processes
or activities (no one-off work).
With this list the client established
clear guidelines for setting priorities.
The highest priority is work that generates the greatest return on investment
or has the largest impact on executing
the strategy. Simply put, a business
isn’t something that
It’s a process that
involves a shift in