Five things that good communicators do

SimonCommunications, General

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my leadership skills recently and how I can improve the way I operate and my personal effectiveness at work. At the moment I’m doing two jobs – leading a communications and marketing team and leading the council’s transformation programme.

Moving away from my professional background in communications and marketing into the new area of change and programme management has forced me to look at my skills and competencies – and how I need to develop to be as successful as possible in both roles.

And that got me thinking the things that good communicators need to do to succeed.

So here are my five things that I think make a difference:

  1. Develop an intuitive communications sense – every organisation and the communications environment it operates in is different. Good communicators understand the dynamics of these environments, the channels through which information spreads and the networks that link actors in these environments. They can apply this knowledge and experience to real and hypothetical situations to make informed and balanced judgements about messages, stories and strategies – and how effective they will be at delivering outcomes that are needed in a particular situation.
  2. Have great personal communications skills – and being able to use them when dealing with people at all levels of organisations. There aren’t many roles that demand the ability to be able to deal with such a wide range of people – both face to face and in writing.
  3. Be strong relationship managers – having a wide-ranging and well-cultivated network is vital for communicators to be able to operate and be able to stay closely in tune with the workings of the organisation they’re part of.
  4. Positively engage with change – the communications environment is more dynamic than ever. Good communicators can understand the nature of change, what it means for them, their teams and their organisations. Without this they risk their skills becoming moribund and their effectiveness declining.
  5. Having fun and keeping a sense of humour – the best teams I have worked in have been those where, even when things are stressful and the way forward isn’t clear, work is still fun. Communications usually involves juggling multiple issues and rapidly changing situations while retaining a clear sense of judgement and priorities. The best communicators can do this while keeping their head and enjoying the adrenaline rush that comes with some communications situations.

What do you think? Have I missed anything major that good communicators should be able to do?