When Tribe is developing internal communications strategies for our clients, our mantra is that we work to align the day-to-day actions of employees with the vision of leadership. The tools that often drive this mantra are 1) the communications calendar and 2) the communications sheriff, who is in charge of the communications calendar.
Since companies are often complex ecosystems, this alignment can be difficult. Each business unit – and in many cases each geographic location – will likely have competing communications interests. And often there will be many communicators – official and unofficial – working to get competing messages to their respective employees.
Enter the sheriff.
The communications sheriff is the person who has the final say on communications priorities and which messages are communicated in what manner and at what time. This person’s job is to ensure that all company communications support leadership’s vision. And by the time we get to the end of the communications calendar, the sum of all communications should have told the intended story. Every company needs a sheriff and a communications calendar.
The sheriff’s role.
We tend to think of a sheriff as someone wearing a badge who arrests the folks who break the law. But the real role of the sheriff (and any law enforcement officer) is to manage the actions of the people of a community in a way that keeps them aligned with the goals of that community. The system is designed as a way to keep things moving efficiently in the same direction.
The communications sheriff is also tasked with keeping things moving efficiently in the same direction. To do this, the sheriff builds and manages a calendar that covers every event, activity or initiative that employees need to know about. And it should account for every part of the company – business units, support organizations, geographies, remote employees, etc.
Calendarizing your internal communications strategy.
Pulling all of this into a single document helps everyone more clearly visualize when there are available windows for communications. And this should help with negotiating room for all of the voices and help make decisions regarding when employees are going to be most receptive.
The most important – and most difficult – part of the sheriff’s job is to effectively partner and coordinate with the people who communicate to all of these segments or audiences, and to ensure that all of these voices are accounted for on the calendar. But since we can’t jail offenders, the communication sheriff’s job must be done through influence. And the influence comes from the ability to show colleagues that communications works more effectively and efficiently when everyone is proactively working together.
Of course, there will occasionally be friction – often due to disagreements over priorities. This is when leadership must support the sheriff to ensure that there is a final word. But still, no arresting people and putting them in jail.
Interested in organizing and executing your internal communications strategy? Tribe can help.