How Communicators Can Speak the Language of the C-Suite
Mark Ragan trains thousands of communicators each year at his well-known conferences. He said they see themselves as the “Employee Engagement Culture Experts” at their organizations because they understand the correlation between an informed workforce and improved business performance.
But if they are tempted to use “culture” as the reason for their business to add a modern communication platform, Ragan offers this advice:
Resist that urge.
“You need an argument that says, ‘Look, this is going to make us money,’” said Ragan, the CEO of Ragan Communications. “Show that a platform boosts productivity, saves customer service time, improves customer retention. All of that translates to dollars. If you start making ‘soft’ arguments that don’t contribute to revenue, then it becomes a nice-to-have instead of a need-to-have.”
Building a business case is not something that comes naturally for many communicators. But it has become an important part of the role.
Joni Renick, a Senior Executive Advisor at research firm CEB (now Garner), tells communicators that they must learn how to sell if they want to get the technology they need to do help their organizations. Educate internal stakeholders about the strategic and financial benefits of technology, she said.
That’s how you unlock budget.
“I talk with people all the time about how to elevate the message,” Renick added. “Communications talks about speaking the language of their audience externally. But so often they forget to speak the language of their internal audience. It’s about teaching communicators to be better salespeople.”
Specifically, it means talking in a way that gets the ear of the executive suite. With that in mind, here are some ways to explain the impact throughout the entire business in a way that senior management will appreciate.
Employees achieve more when they understand the company vision and have immediate access to information that helps them do their jobs better.
End the guessing game about who is seeing and engaging with messages. With accurate measurement, the organization then can optimize the communication strategy for greater impact.
Employee Retention and Recruitment
Disengaged employees are not likely to stay employees because they don’t feel valued. There’s a high cost associated with attrition. Transparent communication helps organizations nurture their best-performing employees and attract new talent.
Better Use of Resources
Streamlined communication with one platform enables organizations to eliminate outdated channels like printed newsletters. It also drives better utilization of systems such as the intranet by alerting employees to new content and improving their access to it.
Cost of Poor Communication
What is the price, in dollars and impact on the brand, when you can’t immediately connect with your workforce? Do you want employees getting news from their social media feeds or accurate information directly from the company? If there is a crisis, are you able to reach out to every employee?
Mobilize Brand Ambassadors
Transform the workforce into a powerful voice that promotes your company by sharing “snackable” content with their personal networks – extending the reach of paid marketing campaigns through earned media.
Keep Pace with Industry Trends
Organizations risk falling behind in the marketplace when they aren’t using innovative communication technology to improve employee job performance – and competitors are using the latest and greatest.
“The CFO isn’t concerned about corporate culture or if employees are happy,” added Joelle Kaufman, Chief Marketing Officer at Dynamic Signal. “The CFO cares about standing up in front of the board or Wall Street analysts and saying, ‘We beat our numbers and our strategy is working.’ So, you talk their language and tell them how you’re going to help them achieve their goals. You must explain that the end result of poor internal communication is your price per share is lower than it could be. That’s an argument that makes sense to the CFO.”
That’s also when a communicator’s standing rises in the business.
“They have to arm themselves with the ammunition to prove their argument that this will move the needle for the business,” Ragan said. “That’s how comms gets a seat at the table.”