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The Importance of Effective Communication

Posted June 22, 2011 4:52 PM by Brandon Kline

Does everyone in your organization clearly understand the organizational strategy and how they fit into it? Employees want to know where they fit into the overall strategy, and how their roles contribute to the success of the organization. A clear understanding of the organizational strategy is fundamental to achieving goals and objectives. The key to developing this understanding at all levels of an organization is effective communication. When implementing the Balanced Scorecard, the scope of an organization's internal communication can make or break the efforts.

With communication being such a prominent driver of Balanced Scorecard success, some organizations may find it helpful to develop a communication plan. This ensures that information is being disseminated effectively at all levels. In his book, "Balanced Scorecard Step-By-Step for Government and Nonprofit Agencies," Paul Niven outlines common objectives, as well as key elements, for developing a communication plan. Let's take a look at a few of the common objectives.

Common Objectives

  • Build awareness of the Balanced Scorecard at all levels of the organization
  • Provide education on key Balanced Scorecard concepts to all audiences
  • Generate the engagement and commitment of key stakeholders in the project
  • Encourage participation in the process
  • Generate enthusiasm for the Balanced Scorecard
  • Ensure that team results are disseminated rapidly and effectively
  • When formulating a communication plan, Niven recommends the "W5" approach to determine the key elements of your plan: who, why, what, when, where.

    Key Elements

    Who refers to both the target audience and the communicator. According to the scope of your implementation, you should define the appropriate groups to be involved in the process. These groups make up your target audience. After the target audience has been specified, a communicator should be assigned to each group with the task of effectively communicating the message.

    The why and what in this equation can be understood as the purpose or message. The communication plan's purpose is to convey the original objective behind implementing the plan. This could take the form of a common objective listed above, such as "generate the engagement and commitment of key stakeholders in the project." What are we doing and why? We are implementing the communication plan to generate engagement and commitment from key stakeholders.

    When should you communicate the message? The needs of your target audience will determine the necessary frequency of communication. If you are unsure about the amount of communication needed, it is always better to err on the side of too much. In his article "Leading Change," John Kotter says, "without credible communication, and a lot of it, employees' hearts and minds are never captured."

    Where and how are you supposed to communicate? Communicating effectively often takes a large amount of effort and, more often than not, the message needs to be repeated several times. In order for employees to fully understand the strategy and the ways in which they contribute to success, Dr. Robert Kaplan suggests communicating the plans "seven times in seven ways." This might mean making use of brochures, speeches, newsletters, videos, company website or intranet, workshops, etc. Any channel that has the ability to reach the target audience could be used; it could even take the form of internal blog posts within your organization.

    Communication is a two-way street, so don't forget to ask for feedback from others and to provide it as well. Remember, communicate effectively and communicate often. Thanks for reading and keep me posted on your communication efforts!