You’ve been thinking about how senior leaders could communicate more effectively with employees. But when you propose your ideas, you get a lukewarm response. How can you gain buy-in for new ways of communicating?

Start by adopting techniques used by consultants and other strategic advisors. Instead of jumping right to your recommendations, lay the groundwork to make your case. Here are four steps to follow:

Know your leader
Let’s say the leader you support is a Senior Vice President named Lydia. Begin by understanding everything you can about her:

  • What are her goals and objectives for the organization?
  • How does she prefer to communicate? Is she more comfortable presenting or interacting with employees?
  • What does success look like to Lydia? What matters most to her? 

Understand employees
Like most leaders, Lydia may not truly comprehend how her communication preferences differ from those of employees. But you can bridge the gap, bringing Lydia valuable insights about employees to help her better connect with them:

  • Analyze demographics so you can describe such factors as age, gender, tenure, geography and job types.
  • Use data from past surveys (such as post-town hall surveys) to capture employee feedback.
  • Conduct focus groups to probe what employees are looking for and how communication can best meet their needs.

Gather evidence about trends or best practices
Boost your credibility by putting your organization and employees in context. Provide perspectives on how your communication compares to the organizations Lydia admires:

  • Benchmark––Understand how other companies handle similar situations with online research (white papers and articles) from consulting firms and research organizations. Ask yourself what companies that Lydia admires for their communication efforts? Use content from these companies to influence her.
  • Trends––Understand best practices within your industry such as how people are using technology.

Create a communication plan 
Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, put it all together in a plan that provides a comprehensive strategy for how Lydia will communicate over the next year to 18 months. Include:

  • Objectives­­­­­––Are they measurable and actionable?
  • Strategies––What is the overall approach of your plan?
  • Tactics and a timeline––What will occur and when?

Follow these four steps to create an approach that Lydia (or any leader) will support.

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