How to go from taking orders to offering your strategic vision

Communicators, if you want to stop working on the assembly line of ill-advised messages and start contributing ideas early in the concept phase, follow this two-step approach.

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Do you ever feel like a short-order cook, deluged with more demands than you can handle?

Some time ago, a colleague was bemoaning her overwhelming workload: “I currently have 35 pieces of work in flight or in the pipeline, and my clients just keep adding more. I don’t think there’s anyone else here who’s working as hard as I am right now!”

She was right, and it wasn’t a good thing. She was incredibly well-intentioned, capable at her job and in charge of helping a dynamic business communicate with its employees.

However, she always said “yes” and rarely pushed back with her clients. To them, she had become an execution-focused order taker instead of the strategic advisor she wanted to be. As a result, she was never consulted before key decisions were made.

She wasn’t the only one hurt by this: While she was struggling under the workload, the business she was supporting was pumping out tactical, transactional and scattershot communications not bound together by any common strategic theme.

The people ordering these pieces weren’t communications experts, and it showed. It was a mess for her, and it was a mess for them. That’s not to mention the end users—the company’s employees themselves.

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