[Our Perspective, by Michael Voss and Jennifer Rock]
‘Twas the month before year-end, and all through the company …
Wait. The last thing you need right now is another cringe-worthy rendition of Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem. And – to be honest – we can’t think of a good rhyme for “company” anyway. So we’ll cut to the chase: for many communicators, it’s time to begin thinking about the impending transition to a new fiscal year.
The closing of the books on a corporate fiscal year is not entirely unlike the end of the calendar year for most individuals. It’s a time for reflection and gratitude, and for sharpening our goals and plans for the coming year. Those of us who run Internal Communications (IC) functions have particular responsibilities to serve company employees in this regard.
More specifically, now is the time to wrap up the current year in honest, thoughtful ways that foster companywide education and celebration. It’s also a perfect time to gear up for the new year by preparing employees for the strategies that will drive the business going forward – helping them understand how they’ll be expected to participate. And while you’re up to your earmuffs in next year’s business priorities, be sure to carve out the time to ensure your IC strategies align with the company’s focus areas.
These are time-intensive activities – but well worth the effort to engage your employees, get in lockstep with your executives and set a solid foundation for the coming year. So pour yourself a cup of eggnog and take a spin through the checklist below.
Year in Review
- Summarize your business performance. Dust off the company’s business plan from the beginning of the year and chart the progress made against specific objectives. Highlight the biggest success stories, while acknowledging any obstacles or delays.
- Recap the coverage. Scan the previous 12 months of media, investor and industry analyst coverage. Quote or share the best stories and reports, balancing the braggadocio with a dose of commentary from your company’s critics. This type of transparency is a credibility builder for your senior team and communications department.
- Look back at the give-back. Add up the money and time your organization and employees have donated to charitable organizations over the course of the year. Share stories and photos that bring to life the difference your employees make in their communities.
- Say it with pictures. Infographics are a great way to cut through information clutter and deliver messages in a compelling way. Consider a calendar view of the year’s top milestones. A chart illustrating the rise in your company’s share price or valuation. A map that helps people visualize the growth in physical locations or a diagram showing increased online traffic, sales or another performance indicator. And don’t forget video – one of the most powerful storytelling tools in your arsenal.
- Thank your troops. One critical tactic for any year-end comm plan is a heartfelt message from your CEO (on behalf of the entire senior leadership team), thanking employees for their contributions to the company’s success.
- Lay the groundwork. Even if your plans for the next fiscal year aren’t complete or ready to be shared, you can help employees wrap their heads around the broader landscape in which you operate. What are the current economic indicators, trends for your industry, or current projects that will continue into January and beyond?
- Preview the corporate calendar. Your earnings reports, shareholder meetings and other important company events are likely established by this point, so go ahead and let your employees mark their calendars – particularly if there is a date where the fiscal year’s priorities will be shared internally. It demonstrates a level of planning and consistency your employees will find reassuring.
- Brainstorm the tactics. While the company strategies may not be fully baked, you can leverage the expertise of your IC team to ideate new and unique methods of rolling out the plan. Take it a step further by holding focus groups to better understand what approaches work best for your employees, and what they hope to learn in the coming year.
Categories: Our Perspective