by Karin Bonev

June 29, 2017

Anytime a CEO communicates with associates, it’s an opportunity to build trust, increase employee engagement and positively influence the bottom line. And studies show that associates do want to hear from their CEO regularly. Whether your CEO has been talking with associates for years or is thinking about how he or she can start the conversation, below are five best practices that can make the most of your CEO’s outreach.

1. Reinforce business strategy and objectives

Most employees are focused on their day-to-day tasks – as they should be. A message from the CEO is an opportunity to share the 30,000-foot view of the organization and reconnect them to its strategy, business objectives and values. One of the best ways to do that is through examples and stories. Talk about a recent visit to an important customer. Share how an associate went above and beyond. Let folks know about an important advertising campaign or trade show. And make sure that story underscores your organization’s strategy.

2. Be transparent 

Share what’s happening with the organization both in good times and in bad. It’s easy to communicate with associates when the company is doing well, but don’t avoid the tough situations or your associates will lose trust and confidence in senior leadership.

3. Be authentic

In both formal and informal communications, make sure the CEO’s personality comes through. Associates can easily detect insincerity and will begin to tune out if your CEO is another “talking head.”

4. Encourage two-way communications

Provide associates with an opportunity to respond, ask questions or offer feedback in a way that’s comfortable for them. For some of our clients, their employees don’t hesitate to ask specific questions at the quarterly town hall. For other clients, their employees prefer to submit feedback via an email address or quick pulse survey.

5. Share frequent updates – both formal and informal 

Ensure that the CEO communicates at regular and frequent intervals with associates – at a minimum once a quarter or, ideally, once a month. The updates don’t always have to be a formal message or town hall-like meeting with the CEO. In fact, they shouldn’t be. Consider a quick email after a customer visit that includes photos or a short video after an investor presentation.

We have seen strong CEO communications rally employees during difficult times, build culture and engagement and help employees focus on what really matters. Which of these best practices have you seen done well? Are there others?

Interested in helping your senior team improve its communications to associates?