Effective communication with employees takes effort, repetition, thoughtfulness and most importantly needs to come from the heart. Communication needs to be something business leaders seek to do whenever they can rather than considering it a check box before getting back to the "real work" of running the business.
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Currently, I serve as the CEO of a local marketing solutions company that was created by combining two business units that were previously part of a bigger company. I was tasked to manage this complicated company carve out with the objective of transforming a legacy print business to a thriving digital business. A major challenge was the employee base was more than 5,000 people with offices in 34 states, which meant regular and effective communication across the organization was critical to success. From day one I chose to create an environment of open, transparent dialog about the company, our progress and what we need to do to win.
Here are five strategies I recommend putting in place for creating a culture of communication and alignment:
1. Send weekly correspondence to all employees in the company.
Every Monday without fail for the last three years I have sent a personally written email to every employee in the company about things I am thinking about and important topics for the business. This kind of communication serves as an opportunity to truly connect and engage with the entire organization.
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2. Build comfort in talking about what is not working.
Many companies have a culture of looking for the positives and avoiding calling out and discussing the negatives. Great companies focus on what is not going well so they can dig in and get better. This approach allows employees to feel they have a say in their company’s culture and their ideas are valued.
3. Hold town hall meetings.
Whether you have offices in one city or nationwide, plan for travel to have face-to-face conversations with these groups no matter the size. Make sure you aren't just lecturing. Foster a two-way candid cialog. You will be able to learn a great deal about what is really happening in the business from these sessions, which can help you and your leadership team make better decisions.
4. Put on an annual senior leadership conference for your top leaders.
This type of conference is a working session where every leader can hear the company strategy, plans and messages together and bring the information back to their teams. An equally important value is the informal network building that takes place that enables leaders to have effective communication with each other throughout the year.
5. Answer every employee email within 24 hours.
We are all busy but always have time for communicating with employees that work hard every day to serve your customers and build your company. Your team wants to be heard and feel appreciated.
Commit to effective communications and you’ll be glad you did.