Successful Leaders Are Great Communicators: How to Connect with Your Employees

post from Jennifer Rock and Michael Voss:

To be an effective leader and run a high-performing
company, you need to be great at communicating with your employees. After all,
when employees are well informed and feel included in company strategies and
activities, they are more productive and engaged – and all of your stakeholders
(especially your customers) benefit.

Effectively communicating with your employees doesn’t
necessarily require you to command an audience like a rock star or give a
TED-worthy presentation. Great communicators genuinely connect with company
workers in ways that not only inform employees, but increase trust between the
c-suite and the front lines.

Here are three ways to strengthen your connection with
employees, too, and become a better communicator in the process.

1.   Be transparent.
At its core, transparency is a
pretty simple concept:  You commit to
employees that you will share what you can, when you
can. And then you do it, consistently, especially in regard to the most buzzed-about
company topics like organizational changes or product innovations. The key is
to give employees a steady drumbeat of communication and easy-to-use channels where
they can offer their input and feedback.

To be clear, being transparent
doesn’t mean opening the information floodgates. Employees don’t want every
detail about the most tactical activities and processes, communicated at equal
volume and priority. Even in a transparent
environment, you still need to set and follow a communications strategy,
filtering your messages by audience, relevance and timing.

And keep in mind, there will
always be information you can’t and won’t communicate, because of confidentiality
or financial-disclosure regulations. When you can’t be transparent with
employees, be sure you tell them the reason.
2.  Be authentic.
Transparency is about WHAT you
communicate, and authenticity is HOW you communicate. Some leaders communicate
the way they believe leaders “should” share information – buried in loads of
industry jargon delivered behind a formal podium.

Masking your authenticity places
artificial barriers between you and your audience, and removes your ability to
play to your strengths. If you’re more comfortable in small-group settings, skip
the all-company town hall and hold a series of employee coffee chats instead. At
your best in casual, online discussions with employees? Supplement your
strategy with regular messages to employees via internal social media.

Always play to your strengths
as a communicator. You will deliver more effective messages while authentically
connecting with your audience.
Be vulnerable.
It’s a difficult moment for a
leader: an employee stands up in a meeting or Q&A session and asks THE
tough question. “Why did this strategy fail?” or “How are you going to fix
this?” These moments test a leader, and the best communicators answer in the
most straightforward and truthful way possible: 
“I made a mistake” or “We simply don’t know yet.”
Many leaders try to avoid
appearing weak or unknowledgeable, so they dodge the question or avoid the
uncomfortable moment altogether. But it’s always better to hit a topic head-on.
In fact, start the meeting or memo with it: “I know you’re all probably
wondering …”
This level of honesty goes
hand-in-hand with transparency and authenticity, and will go a long way to
establish trust between you and your employees.
Jennifer Rock and Michael Voss are co-owners of ROCKdotVOSS Communications.

Their debut
novel B.S., Incorporated – a funny, heartfelt, fictional take on
corporate America – has been called “a veritable how-to and how-NOT-to for all
company leaders.”