There’s no doubt that communication is a fundamental component of any successful business. It is essential to have communication that is honest, open, and clear, and that starts from the top. The CEO is the leader of the business, so it is obviously important for them to be an excellent communicator. This means more than just being polite and politically correct. It also means delivering content that is meaningful to the rest of the organization. The CEO should be able to communicate the basic elements of their business strategy as well as steps for achieving it. They are also expected to brief employees on current happenings within the company as well as leading sales calls, running meetings, delivering powerful presentations, and providing support for critical situations. With so much at stake, the CEO must learn to develop effective communication skills in order to meet the demands of their job. Here are a few strategies for encouraging best practices for CEO communication.
1. Develop an Internal Communication Plan
With so many employees now working remotely, companies need to come up with a new plan for communicating with employees who are all separated from each other. Communication is not only vital for keeping employees in the loop, but it also supports a sense of belonging and community. Generic memos from the CEO just don’t cut it these days. There needs to be new methods of communication from video conferencing and zoom meetings to regular emails and newsletters to keep employees engaged, informed, and up-to-date with company happenings.
2. Find Ways to Interact with Employees
It’s not enough for CEO’s to simply spit out information. Communication is a two-way street so they also need to look for ways to interact with employees. For example, CEO’s should involve employees in identifying and solving challenges, by asking questions and seeking feedback. One way to do this is by conducting a company wide survey. CEO’s could also host a listening tour, in which they ask employees from various departments the same questions and record their feedback. This helps employees feel engaged in the company and fosters an environment where communication is two-fold.
3. Be Inspiring
A CEO’s job is to share their vision and goals for the company with their employees. However, an old school presentation that lays out the company vision and mission might not be enough. In order to really drive home the message, CEO’s need to inspire employees to work toward these goals. Whether it’s sharing an inspirational story, starting a change initiative, or creating a friendly competition to get employees fired up, a great communicator is one who inspires change and motivates others to do the same.
4. Be Authentic
Think about that company wide email that sounded like it was derived directly from a script. Chances are you read through it and immediately deleted it from your inbox. Now, imagine an email comes through directly from your CEO that sounds more like a personal, heartfelt email that he penned right there on the spot from his/her office. Chances are this unscripted email will have more of an impact because it feels genuine and authentic. CEO’s need to remember the power of authenticity and go unscripted every now and then. This is a great way to build trust with employees.
5. Reintroduce Yourself to Customers
CEO’s can never assume that they still have the same target audience. They always need to be looking for ways to reconnect with customers in order to build trust and loyalty. Customers are more likely to choose a company they have established an authentic relationship with, and it’s up to the CEO to reiterate who they are and why they value their customers and community.
6. Make Yourself More Approachable
All too often the CEO feels like some far-away king sitting on their throne somewhere. Employees feel like they know nothing about them and perhaps that they are just a number to that person. That’s why it is so important for CEO’s to learn to be open, honest, and transparent with their employees. Share personal stories, challenges, or goals. Host “Ask Me Anything” sessions so employees can get to know more about you. This helps employees see you as a person, and it demonstrates a level of trust, respect, and empathy from the CEO.
7. Recognize Milestones and Achievements
Communication from CEO’s shouldn’t always be about quarterly results, company vision, and current challenges. Sometimes, it simply needs to be about recognition. Knowing that the CEO might recognize you for your accomplishments can be hugely motivating. It encourages people to strive for special achievements. Share great happenings within your organization including company milestones, personal achievements, and gracious “thank you’s” for a job well done. This can be incredibly meaningful coming from the one on top.