Communication is something that we rarely think about when we talk about strategies. Instead of strategies, you may call these procedures or policies. They are a set of standards that represent the business at all levels, but strategies make policies and procedures integral to the business.
Here is what the Bible says as a reminder about how we communicate: Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
Your communication comes from how you treat the janitorial staff, how you speak to workers who mess up and even how you dress. For this communication strategy, we are going to focus on verbal and text communication.
Some things to think for communication include how phones are answered, who can respond on social media, who handles bad reviews, what kind of words are used within the workplace, etc. You can group these communication strategies into two strategies: internal and external.
Internal communication is what happens within the doors of your business. It is how employees interact with each other and how leadership spreads information. Don’t take for granted the internal communications.
Here are some questions for internal communication strategies:
- Can employees freely express themselves? Is cussing allowed?
- Are employees allowed to use personal cell phones to communicate?
- What are the consequences of breaking the communication policies?
- Is there a structure in place that allows the CEO to announce specials, promotions, changes in policy, etc?
- Do employees know the organization structure and who to go to if there is a problem or challenge?
These are just a few of the hundreds of questions that business owners need to have in place. As Christians, I would hope you want to provide a positive atmosphere and wouldn’t allow cussing and disrespectful comments. Understanding that we are all created in the image of God allows us to elevate the value of people within our business.
Answering these questions helps us identify policies. Policies become strategies when they tie into the mission and vision of your business. Instead of posting a long list of rules, why not have a single strategy of internal communication. It may be something simple.
The key to a good strategy is to have a memorable way of communicating it. Remember our article from yesterday? We talked about Coca-Cola. One of their visions is:
This is part of their vision statement and it helps them communicate internally.
External communication is a bit more complicated. It is every type of communication that a company has with customers, through advertising, sales and even how the phone is answered. Your words and actions need to be consistent across all areas of your business.
Here are some questions to think about:
- Is there a script on how to answer the phone?
- Do sales people get to create their own presentations or are they required to use a standard presentation?
- Is there a check and balance for each piece of advertising that is created by the company?
- Do employees know what is allowed when responding to bad reviews, negative comments on social media or personal attacks online?
- Do you have a policy about personal social media accounts for employees?
Again, we could list hundreds of questions, but having a solid understanding of how your company communicates with the world is important. Think of it this way, each person who communicates from your business does so as an ambassador for your company.
In the ancient world, an ambassador was an extension of a king. They could save or start wars with a single word or two. Even seemingly non-offensive words could become crucial when an ambassador was away.
JCPenney’s had some major issues in the last few years. They created cute shirts, but those shirts were met with major controversy. Those shirts seemed innocent enough, but when the word got out they were taken with a whole other context. Their marketing department did not have a good way to vet their ideas and this happened more than once. (more about marketing strategies in our next article)
Imagine an employee of yours responding to a hateful comment on your social media. Then, it gets blown out of proportion and your company suffers because of a careless communication from an employee. This happened a few weeks ago with a very reputable company.
External communication strategies must take into account the culture of the business. What works for one company may not work for your company. The strategy may be multi-leveled based on the position of the employee. Your strategy may represent casual friendliness, or business professional or anywhere in between. As a business owner, you must have a good grasp on your business culture and how to readily communicate the values of your business.
Developing communication strategies
There are so many ways to create strategies and each business is different. Let me start by saying that a communication strategy starts with developing a strong hiring process. The better the employee represents your company, the better they will be in the long run. Having a solid training program to communicate by example will also show the demeanor and culture of your business.
Start with the C level employees even if it is just yourself. Pull out your mission and vision. Look at your values and see if you can put your business culture into a single sentence. You can use a series of words if that best suits your business. Just make it simple and easy to remember.
Post your communication standards in relevant places. Give incentives for knowing the values of the company. Reward workers for exemplifying your business culture. Remember the old adage: what gets rewarded, gets repeated.
Above all of your communications keep in mind your Christian values. Ultimately, you are representing God with your business. You are an ambassador for Him and everything you do is a reflection on who He is. When people know you are a Christian company, they will look to see if they can prove it.
I want to remind you that you don’t need to be preachy or use Bible verses on everything you communicate. There is nothing wrong with doing that, but your business culture may reach into the world and need to be a light that guides not a light that blinds. Be wise with your words and your actions.
Here’s a quick reminder from the Bible: Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
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