As communications professionals, we focus a lot of our attention on disseminating information, accurately and on a timely basis. Without doubt, that’s a good thing. Yet we have the opportunity to make another valuable contribution to our organizations: We can build the communication capability and help others grow their confidence in that competency.

Building the communication capability can be a competitive edge for a company. It can be the glue that retains key talent, the lubricant that fosters collaboration and the fuel that drives productivity. Conversely, poor communication can lead to disengagement and, in the worst cases, fuzzy ethics. Ouch.

Let’s say we’re in agreement and we plan to build that communication capability. So what do we do? First, we need to assess the practices of our leaders and managers to target the right levels, and figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Second, we need to ensure that the leaders/managers we target hear the expectation for a communication capability–which may mean partnering with our talent development colleagues. Next, we need to align with the organization’s objectives and existing internal communications program. Finally, we need to develop information and packaging in a way that empowers our target audience to be successful communicators.

That’s where a leadership communications packet comes into the picture. Oh, that! You say, thinking you already throw together a few talking points after the quarterly business review and send them to a distribution list. I submit that activity amounts to ticking a box. It doesn’t build a communications capability and it certainly doesn’t empower anyone. Building the capability means:

  • Offering a multi-channel experience
  • Providing quality content for those multiple channels
  • Designing tactics and content to engage

In other words, this leadership communications packet requires your thought. You should consider the message and objectives, which may lead you to a range of assets in addition to the standard talking points. For example, would you enable a more engaging experience if you leveraged video clips, still images, prepared slides, manager-employee conversation starters, hashtags for team conversations, an outline for a Skype-enabled discussion, links to other rich content on the intranet, a suggested related topic list for Flipboard? In addition, do your targeted leaders understand what their employees should take away? And lastly, do you have a mechanism in place so those leaders can feedback what’s effective, and what they’re experiencing, and what else they need? If your packet doesn’t meet these tests, then you’ve got some work to do!

For 2017, make it a priority to truly empower your leaders and managers with tools they can use so that they can increase their confidence and be successful in their roles.

Be the communication capability builder in your organization in 2017.