Strategic Communications

Strategic Communication's Impact on Culture: A Focus on Alignment, Engagement and Adaptability

Often overlooked is strategic communication's role in building company culture. This important function is pivotal in building consistency, fostering trust, and fortifying change readiness and adaptability. Alice Grey Harrison, APR, Managing Partner at AGH Consulting Group explains.

Beyond emails and the intranet, strategic communication builds a framework that instills consistency and clarity within a firm, ensuring alignment with its mission and strategy across all functions.

Attracting and retaining talent continues to be a top internal focus for CEOs globally, according to The Conference Board, a member-driven global think tank comprised of more than 1,000 public and private companies. Culture emerges as a decisive factor in talent recruitment and retention, and strategic communication has the power to shape culture, thus making it a powerful tool in the ongoing war for talent. Three critical aspects of culture in which communications can positively tip the needle are mission alignment, employee engagement, and change adaptability.

Alice Grey Harrison, APR, Managing Partner of AGH Consulting Group.

Mission Alignment

Alignment is the link between employee engagement and an organisation’s strategic priorities, resulting in heightened performance.  When employees understand how their roles support the firm's mission and strategy, they are able to connect their work with a higher purpose, resulting in heightened performance and discretionary effort. 

Utilising mediums like blogs and podcasts for internal and external storytelling becomes instrumental in building mission alignment. Equally critical is the role of onboarding in connecting team members with the mission and strategy. Employing video and storytelling during onboarding helps bring to life the impact individuals can make and underscores the connection between everyday actions and the overarching mission. 

Additionally, instituting a reward and recognition programme specifically tied to mission alignment goes a long way in reinforcing understanding and alignment across all organisational levels. Recognition becomes a catalyst for team celebration and a collective understanding of desired behaviours.

Employees who feel informed feel connected, and this sense of belonging motivates people to go the extra mile.

Employee Engagement

Effective communication builds trust and understanding, which leads to engagement. According to a Harvard Business Review study, team members at high-trust companies report 76% more engagement,106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, and 40% less burnout, than peers at low-trust companies.  When team members have trust, they feel a deeper connection to each other, and this sense of belonging motivates people to go the extra mile.     

Frequent and clear communication at all organisational levels helps build this sense of trust, underscoring the value the firm places on team members.  Employees who feel informed feel connected and are less likely to be bogged down in office politics, information hoarding, and speculative gossip.  

Ensuring employees clearly understand where to access information and what types of information are shared via various modalities is crucial for maintaining engagement. Establishing and sharing a clear communications framework and strategy helps guide team members to relevant information, both inspirational information, such as CEO communications, and transactional information, such as marketing materials and client engagement letters.  The framework should clearly outline the platforms the firm uses, such as email, podcast, intranet, etc., the content topical categories, and the frequency of publishing content.  A central hub, such as a strategically organised intranet, is a great way to ensure a one-stop shop for communications.  This supports the goal of ensuring team members feel informed and know where to get information, thus fostering connection and engagement.

Adaptability to Change

If there is one thing we know about business in 2024, change is constant, and adaptability is critical to success.  Firms that understand how to change and adapt will thrive in the coming years. Change at the organisational level begins with individuals.  And firms can’t change if people don’t.  Communication plays a crucial role in helping team members at all levels, navigate change in a positive way. 

Leading with deeply aligned communications is the key to thriving in this era of constant change. Team members don’t care about the what and the how if they do not understand the why.  Aligning the team with why the change is happening creates a shared understanding that is motivational. To support this, communications must address both the heart and mind, providing objective information and subjective influence.  

When we think of change as a continuum, we can build communication touchpoints along the way to keep team members motivated and inspired.  We also deploy listening techniques to understand how team members are managing through the change.  Communications designed to respond to what is being heard through the listening modalities build trust and foster adaptability.  Celebrating success and communicating results are also hallmarks of effective change communications.   

In conclusion, strategic communication is a strong foundation for building a thriving culture, attracting and retaining talent, and navigating the uncharted territories of constant change. Recognising the multifaceted impact of communication and incorporating it into organisational strategies is not just a best practice, but a requisite for sustained success in the global business landscape.

As managing partner of AGH Consulting Group, Alice Grey helps firms build alignment through strategic communications and effective change management working with firms of all sizes to build a shared purpose within the organisation, propelling performance and bolstering talent retention and recruitment. Because what’s inside counts.

Main image: Celebrating success and communicating results are hallmarks of effective change communications, strengthening adaptability within a firm.