CEOs—They’re (not) just like us!

CEOs—They’re (not) just like us!

April 23, 2013   Category: Leaders

One of the constant challenges I face in helping companies communicate with employees is convincing senior leaders that the ways they prefer to receive information is not the same as the needs and preferences of everyone else who works there.

One example: Executives need a comprehensive, complete story, with every letter from A to Z covered. Most employees say, “Tell me the three things (usually just A, B and C) I need to know.”

A recent study from CEO.com and Domo that proves my point: Senior leaders are not just like employees, at least when it comes to information.

Here are three key differences—and three similarities:

Difference #1. CEOs’ favorite news source? The Wall Street Journal, a publication whose readership skews older, more affluent and more educated—in other words, more upper management than rank and file.

Difference #2. CEOs care most about business topics. The top 5: business news, market/industry trends, business insights/expert advice, technology trends and marketing trends. Senior leaders worry about the big picture, not the daily details.

Difference #3. CEOs like to read. 57% prefer text, as compared to graphics (18%) or video (8%). (This is so different than most employees, who are avoiding heavy reading by skimming, scanning and watching.)

Similarity #1. CEOs are increasingly online. Three-quarters who are under age 50 agree they “mostly consume information online” while 65% of those over age 50 are online consumers.

Similarity #2. CEOs consume information on smartphones (57%).

Similarity #3. CEOs use online search to find information  (mostly, of course, Google) to find information. 88% search at least once a day.

How can you use this data? Understand how your senior leaders’ preferences compare to how employees want to receive information. Then use your evidence to counsel leaders on developing communication that works for employees.

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