Effective communication in today's environment is difficult—there is a lot of competition. Some recent market research shows that in today's world of hype a message must reach an audience 36 times before being acknowledged or absorbed.
Across the enterprise, employees complain about a lack of communication. Specifically, employees express frustration at their ignorance of organizational goals and how their individual actions make a difference. A 2002 Gallup poll found that 70% of American and an even higher percentage of German workers were dissatisfied with their work because "they lack a sense of professional development and fulfillment that is fundamental to productive employment." This frustration affects job performance.
Our challenge is to deliver thoughtful and well-designed messages about KCS. We must deliver these messages frequently and through different delivery vehicles.
A good KCS Communication Plan is really a marketing plan. It should include:
Target Audiences—Whom do we need to engage and influence in order to have a successful adoption? Typical audiences include executives, customers, product teams, and participating Analysts, but could extend to include IT staff, marketing teams, and sales personnel.
Key Messages—Different audiences (i.e., executives vs. technical) usually require different messages because they have different roles, activities, and objectives
What's In It For Me?—Clearly communicate relevant personal benefits, not just benefits to the enterprise as a whole.
KCS Q&A/FAQ—As we discuss implementation, we capture the questions that are frequently asked. An easily accessible written response ensures consistent messaging.
Overcoming Objections—We must consider the real and perceived objections for each audience and include enough detail to alleviate concerns.
Elevator Pitch—A short (under 30) second overview of the KCS message—what KCS is and why it matters to the listener. A good elevator pitch captures the listener's interest, makes him or her want to learn more, and creates a positive perception.
Delivery Vehicles—Different audiences will require different communication tools—on-line, in-person, and through corporate communication tools. We must think through the most appropriate deliverables by audience so that the message will be heard and remembered.
Programs and Activities for Engagement and Socialization—With messages and communication tools in mind, we need to consider how to socialize the ideas. Are there ways to create interactive conversations, solicit input, and encourage support? What sustained or individual programs or activities will reach the target audiences? Examples of programs:
Meetings (all-hands, group, 1-1)
MBWA ("management by walking around"—casual skip-level communications)
Coaching and training
Conference calls and web conferencing
Collateral and newsletters
Email (note: electronic means should reinforce messages in other channels, but NOT be a primary communication channel)
Project Plan and Timeline—all these elements should be organized in a project plan with timeline (and appropriate budget).
Raising awareness and increasing support for KCS are everyday activities for leaders. Objection handling, whether in-person or in writing, is a crucial technique. We have found several basic rules to be helpful:
Be sensitive to the feelings behind the objection
Acknowledge the validity of feelings; empathize
Seek to understand the issue from the other's perspective
Offer an alternative perspective (don't debate or argue)
Use WIIFM to craft a response in their terms
With these behavioral ideas in mind, we can effectively use the "objection handling" content that is pre-prepared. We handle objections much better when we are ready and consistent. For organizations where conflict is uncomfortable or communication is limited, written objection-handling material can also proactively address concerns that people might be reluctant or unable to raise themselves.