What distinguishes the best communications teams in the world – and which of those world-class communications capabilities should you focus on building in your team to truly drive differentiated business value?
Communications leaders need to be thinking holistically about the capabilities of their function. Too many corporate communications teams find themselves mired in day-to-day activities that while important, don’t really drive business value. No one can do it all. But, given the pace of change, how can communications leaders learn what the capabilities of world-class communications functions are, benchmark their teams, and prioritize the capabilities they need to build to deliver better results?
As practitioners in the communications field for decades, we’ve conducted analysis after analysis and produced dozens of benchmark studies for leaders of global corporate communications teams around the core capabilities needed for organizational success. In our experience, we’ve determined a consistent set of core capabilities specific to internal and external communications teams that when leveraged appropriately can dramatically improve the ability of the communications function to make a real impact.
What are the capabilities communications leaders should be thinking about as they grow their team and plan for the future?
We’ve identified more than 46 capabilities of world-class communications organizations. The strength and necessity of each one vary to different degrees for every communications function. No single organization excels at every capability. And just because others are doing it doesn’t mean you should too. But exploring each capability helps reveal insightful data about where you need to focus team resources, grow and build talent, and differentiate your function.
For example, does your team have the capability to: Ensure Brand Alignment, Enable and Sustain Line-of-Sight, Amplify Corporate Citizenship, Craft Compelling Content, Ensure Strategic Mandate, or Plan and Execute Strategies to Bolster Employee Engagement? Think about what’s important for your business. What capabilities does your team have that will enable you to add strategic value to your company and truly differentiate your function?
Whether global, internal or external, each communications team will identify with certain capabilities more than others, and that’s the idea – every leader needs a starting place to sort out which capabilities are strengths, which are opportunities for development, and which will be key to support the strategic direction of the company moving forward.
Benchmarking your communications function: A unique strategic planning exercise
We’ve designed a proven approach that helps teams align their most value-adding capabilities around the work that matters most. Our custom strategic planning workshops guide communications teams in identifying the capabilities that serve as true “value drivers” and “differentiators” that positively impact the business as well the “distractors” that don’t. The result is a high performing communications function that moves the needle for the business.
Even the most well-intentioned communications leaders start the year with a strategic plan in place, goals and objectives set, priorities articulated. Yet inevitably, the team veers off track. Having an understanding of your team’s breadth of capabilities, and how they align to business priorities can mean the real difference between doing work that matters versus doing work that has you running in circles pleasing every stakeholder. Look at how your team stacks up against world-class communications organizations and start doing work that moves the needle at your company.
Cheryl is founder and CEO of Blue Beyond Consulting. She is a firm believer in deep trust, high expectations workplaces, and a sought-after advisor and speaker on change, leadership, and culture.