Channel, Weekly Digest

Centralized Communication Authority: Getting Your Team On Board

connections abstractYesterday, I discussed the need for having a governance policy in place for your company’s business communications. This policy plays a vital role in your organization, ensuring that all departments are on the same page and that you’re not at risk for violations of regulatory guidelines.

Hopefully I made my case for creating a centralized business communications governance authority. Today, I want to make you aware of some of the challenges you may face in trying to make that happen – and, since I’m a good sport, suggest some ways to overcome them.

 Roadblocks and Hazards

Making the change from having each department handle its own communications process to an integrated policy with centralized authority and responsibility is not an overnight task. It’s likely you’ll see some resistance from individual departments that are used to the status quo.

Here are just a few of the arguments you’re likely to hear, and possible ways you can counter them:

“I don’t have time for this.”

Department heads often feel understandably overwhelmed at the prospect of major policy changes. They already have a hefty workload, and the idea of learning a new process and teaching their staff feels like the final straw.

You can help ease their minds by explaining how your centralized policy and oversight will actually save them time in the long run. They won’t be operating in a vacuum, accidentally duplicating messages being sent by other departments, and they’ll have solid guidelines to follow if questions arise.

 “This is how we’ve always done it.”

Another common argument, this one flows naturally from the first point and from the natural human resistance to change. Research the real, tangible benefits of the new process you’re proposing and show your team how it will help them do their jobs. Once they see it as a path to a more streamlined workload, they’ll be less likely to object.

 “Our department is different.”

Your department heads may be convinced that their departments have unique communication needs that higher management just doesn’t understand.

You’ll need to show them how a uniform communications policy makes the service experience better for your customers, and how their specific departmental needs will fit into the overarching policy.

My suppliers are great.”

Vendor relationships may appear under threat to your team, with the underlying fear that they’ll have to “break in” a new set of contractors or damage personal relationships they have established over time (which is a story for another day).

It’s possible that you will have to replace a vendor or two during the transition. Implement a policy of independent vendor benchmarking to determine which ones are on board with the new process, and which are either non-compliant or obsolete.

One unspoken and fairly universal issue is FEAR; fear that new policies could cause reorganization, eliminate jobs or undermine control. Change comes down to individuals and, appropriately or not, those individuals are all asking “how does this affect me?”

Alleviate these fears by conducting well-run meetings that very clearly define the goals of the new system and the steps you’ll take toward implementing it. If your changes will, in fact, impact certain jobs then that will need to be addressed immediately. The “death by a thousand cuts” approach to implementing change is one of the best ways to ensure that everyone is dead-set against your new policies.

Getting input from team leaders up front and putting your team’s worries to rest early are important steps toward successfully implementing new standards. Take the time to properly educate stakeholders and provide transparency to the process and you will end up with a transparent process. Think of it this way – how can you create an effective communications strategy without being able to effectively communicate it to your own team?  

Elizabeth Gooding

Elizabeth Gooding is the editor of the Insight Forums blog and president of Gooding Communications Group

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