3 Tips to Enhance Executive Communications
Last updated on October 7, 2022 at 09:01 pm
Great leaders don’t just want to be heard, they want to listen. But this can be difficult to achieve in organizations with largely remote or deskless workers. Many organizations still rely heavily on email and print communications. Some are dependent on leaders cascading information to frontline employees. While these channels can be effective, they also pose challenges for effective executive communications because the deskless workforce rarely has access to traditional internal comms channels like email or intranets. As communications professionals, we know leaders are looking for more effective communication methods. But we struggle to get the necessary approvals and budget to change strategy or introduce new tools. Here are three tips to help you get leadership support and funding to enhance executive communication.
1. Start and end with data.
Historically, communications professionals have relied on anecdotes and instincts when assessing our internal comms strategy. Part of that is not having the right tools or channels for measurement, and true internal comms ROI is hard to prove. IC pros need to become better at measurement and analytics because data is the answer to improving executive comms.
It’s probably within your reach to provide leadership with quantifiable evidence that employees want to hear from them. Employee surveys are the perfect place to start gathering this data. Asking questions about trust in leadership, transparency, and whether they feel leadership demonstrates the vision, mission, and values will provide the foundation for your conversation with your executive team. Use the results from employee engagement surveys to find gaps in current communications strategies and to understand what is most important to your employees when it comes to communications.
2. Don’t have your own data? Find it!
Edelman’s Annual Trust Barometer is full of valuable insights on the value of executive comms. Here’s one example:
“Employees who have trust in their employer are far more likely to engage in beneficial actions on their behalf. They will advocate on behalf of their organization, are more engaged, and remain far more loyal and engaged.”
Another great resource is Harvard Business Review. You’ll find hundreds of examples of why leadership communication is vital to any company’s success. Whether it’s showing the correlation between effective executive communication and employee retention and productivity or how employees value transparency and real-time access to information, many reputable resources will help you make your case.
3. Tell your leaders why you need to change and emphasize what happens if you don’t.
Steps one and two will help you explain why you need to incorporate leadership communication into your internal communications plan. But the real call to action comes from sharing the impact on your organization if you don’t make strategic changes.
We all know that there is a high cost to employee turnover, and bad leadership and poor communication are among the most common reasons employees choose to leave a company. Break this down for your leadership team by showing the true cost of employee turnover.
- The cost of an entry-level position turning over is 50% of the salary.
- The cost of replacing a senior executive is over 200% (Forbes).
Then tell leadership what you can do about churn. Present a plan that shows a regular cadence for executive communications that incorporates written and video/audio channels. Ensure these channels are accessible to all employees and that messages are targeted to specific employee groups for maximum impact. For example, if you include quarterly earnings as one of your leadership comms, know that frontline, hourly employees will likely want to hear a different message than the finance team at the corporate office.
Developing a strategy for executive communications and getting leadership to embrace the plan will significantly impact your organization’s bottom line and the employee experience. Don’t wait to begin developing this strategy. Although the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer says that “my employer” is still the most trusted source of information, if we don’t improve our executive comms strategy now, we may risk losing employee trust. All eyes are on the C-Suite and the CEO to speak out publicly about critical issues. If we fail to address these internal and external issues, we will have wasted this opportunity to remain the most trusted institution.
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