A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) needs to have a strong vision for their company. Importantly, being able to communicate it clearly is a crucial leadership skill.
Being a CEO is a very challenging job. They are the company’s leader, and the person primarily responsible for motivating employees and driving visionary change at a strategic level. The role is responsible for key strategic decisions and ultimately must deliver the company’s mission and business results.
The foundation of a CEO’s success is creating the best environment and culture for employees to do their best. Their goal will be to create a company that inspires people to come to work, and to be part of the desired company DNA.
Employees are the heart and soul of the business
Employees are your company’s biggest asset and competitive advantage. They are the ones building, selling, inventing, delivering, and supporting your products and services. They are the frontline facing your customers, who in turn fulfil revenue for your company and shareholders. Improving employee engagement is an investment in their productivity.
In “The Marlin Workplace Survey” conducted by Qualtrics, 67% of workers revealed a high level of trust in information coming from their organizations.
This is statistically better in comparison to other sources of information, such as the news media, which only scored a dismal 30% trust level.
CEOs and executive leadership teams should feel positive about their ratings. However, a study from Gallup (“CEOs: Do Your Employees Trust You”) uncovered that only 13% of U.S. employees strongly agree that their organization’s leadership communicates effectively. This suggests that CEOs and Executives don’t fully own their role.
CEO communication with employees
A major component of effective internal communication is the frequency and speed at which information is conveyed. With just a few tweaks in the internal communication strategy and the right tools, workplaces can give their employees the frequency and quality of information they crave.
CEOs and Executives can embrace their roles as trusted communicators. To be a trusted communicator, there are influential principles that guide this role. These are particularly beneficial during times of change, difficulty, or uncertainty.
- Know that change is Difficult
Change is a difficult path for nearly all people. Even in normal times, a significant proportion of employees feel uncertain. Change in the company is inevitable, and when it happens, leaders often underestimate the impact those changes have on employees. CEOs need to take even more care with their change-communication strategy because they have a key role in leading change communication. In this regard, few employees have any interest in their employer’s shareholder metrics. Instead of sharing generic financial indicators, it’s more valuable to cascade a compelling change story through the entire business. Communication is most effective when it starts early in the change lifecycle. Early communication is more proactive and can reduce the negative consequences that occur from failing to engage employees, such as misinformation and fake news.
CEOs that authentically share vulnerability can demonstrate the human side of leadership. Employees look up to leaders for assurance and support. To communicate in an authentic way, CEOs should stay true to their values and beliefs. Most importantly, they must keep their promises. This is made easier by being self-aware of what they’re capable of, while remaining genuine in their communication.
Example – Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos.
Communicating with empathy enhances employee trust. During uncertainty and challenging times, there are often unpleasant emotions, such as fear, sadness, anxiety and frustration. CEOs can help reduce worker anxiety and form a bond with them by showing sympathy and walking the same path as their employees.
Example – Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
Conveying positivity or optimism is vital during challenging times when it’s easy for people to experience negative feelings and frustrations. Optimistic communication fosters positive thinking to motivate and inspire employees.
Example – Strauss CEO, Chip Bergh.
Transparency means to openly and proactively share relevant information with employees in a timely, regular, and digestible way. This addresses what is happening, the impact, and how the company will handle any differing phases. There needs to clear guidance on what employees should be doing while also encouraging them to share their feedback and concerns.
Example – Marriott CEO, Arne Sorenson.
> For the CEO
Work with your senior team to craft, disseminate, and exemplify your views of the company’s purpose. Communicate it regularly and evaluate managers on their abilities to convey and manifest this broader purpose. Without this, your company may not be able to attract and retain young talent. Serve as a torchbearer of new ideas that will inspire others to march on the path that is defined.
> The Digital impact
Information technology will continue at a dizzying pace. With a younger, digitally native workforce that actively uses all forms of contemporary technology, it’s important to invest in developing and enhancing their digital workplaces. A workforce communication platform makes it easier than ever to reach employees anywhere, anytime.
There’s no time like the present to reach your biggest asset with transparency, empathy, authenticity, and optimism. Address the upbeat as well as challenging times with regular and consistent communication. Know that at all times, your employees remain the backbone of your business.