By Mike Klein on January 10, 2023
2 minute read
Getting into “The Numbers Game” - Three Observations and an Opportunity 

Measurement. Data. Numbers.  

Rather than being seen as sources of credibility and opportunity, these words often strike fear in the hearts of communication pros and leave them feeling weak and wobbly. 

Why "wobbly?" 

Because, in a world like business where numbers are king, communication folk have grown accustomed to trading in words and images. And it is undoubtedly frustrating to try to sell investment in more words and more images to people who are mainly motivated by numbers. 

But there is no reason why comms folk can't start playing "the numbers game" and start using numbers and data to make the case for more investment in their activities and more latitude in which to pursue them. 

To help you bridge the gap, here are three observations and an opportunity: 

  • You don't have to be an expert in exotic math. All you need is some basic fluency in arithmetic like percentages and ratios. And if you can work those numbers into stories, so much the better.
  • Business functions that are more quantitative don't necessarily have "better numbers" than you do. Many numbers in business are based on assumptions and hypothetical (and either unduly conservative or optimistic) projections. The popular meme, "more fiction has been written in Excel than Word" has some basis in fact.
  • Leaders and managers often believe that if something has been communicated officially, it has not only been understood but accepted by those they employ. The only way to credibly challenge this view is with numbers which prove - or at least strongly hint - that the opposite is the case. 

But how can a comms leader get those numbers? From an old employee engagement survey that doesn't ask the right questions? From embedded analytics that count email openings and suchlike, sometimes misleadingly labelled as "employee engagement" measures.   

No.  

The key comes out of turning words into numbers. How do you do that? Ask the right open-ended questions and count the words that come back in response. 

As it happens, I teach a course on how to measure internal communication It's two focused hours on how to turn words into data. It also teaches how to present that data in a way that credibly challenges assumptions and helps make the case for the resources and freedom you need to make a tangible difference to real business outcomes.  
 

But even more important than taking a course is the act of recognizing that you need to get into the "numbers game."  It may be unfamiliar territory - which can make it a challenge. Overcoming that challenge - by selecting, collecting and presenting the right data, moves you into a space of opportunity. 

Wishing you a 2023 that’s filled with opportunity. 

Click here if you are interested in registering for the Measurement Masterclass with Mike Klein. 

measurement masterclass

Mike Klein is a senior strategic advisor to Sparrow Connected and has a consulting and training practice based in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Formerly the IABC Regional Chair for Middle East and North Africa, Mike holds an MBA from London Business School and worked extensively in political survey research in US politics before moving to Europe.  He is a certified Strategic Communication Professional and is recognized as one of the top thought leaders in the world of internal communication. 

 

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