Leaders understand the importance of employee communication, but many may not know what’s expected of them. Some may even be unclear about what information they need to share. That’s why communicators need to provide the support leaders need to become effective at engaging employees.
So what should you do?
“Create tools to provide leaders with easy ways to communicate with employees,” suggests Darlene Hyde, senior project director at Davis & Company, “The easier you make communication, the more likely leaders will do it.”
Darlene facilitated a workshop on leader communication at the Rutgers University Communicators Network in October 2018. The network provides a forum for communicators to share ideas, resources and strategies, and hosts meetings on topics of interest to members.
During her workshop, Darlene gave this advice for taking leader communication to the next level:
- Use evidence to help leaders understand the importance of communication in their roles. Leaders won’t change their habits just because someone tells them to. Communicators can build credibility by harnessing employee feedback to make a case.
- Make leaders visible despite time and distance constraints. There are a number of ways to increase visibility without taking more of leaders’ time. You can leverage what leaders are already doing—like repurposing perspectives for a microblog or upcycling presentation slides—and share across employee communication channels.
- Coach leaders so that they’re poised but not too polished. (Authenticity is key.) Consider offering training sessions. Just as media training helps leaders improve their presence in front of a camera, communication training will help leaders understand their roles and convey information more effectively.
- Make forums—such as town halls and face-to-face sessions—more engaging. Be sure to devote more time to discussion during these sessions. You can even rearrange the physical space to create the opportunity for interaction among participants, allowing them to discuss ideas and share experiences.
- Energize Q&As to make them a win-win for leaders. Leaders can flip the script on the Q&A segment by ditching “Does anyone have any questions?” Instead, leaders should pose a specific question like, “What are strengths and weaknesses of our organization in becoming more customer-focused?” to garner more employee participation.
For more on how to help leaders communicate, check out some of our resources.