m Edelman’s Employee Engagement
Practice | October 2012
LEADERSHIP COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
CREATE EXCLUSIVE FORUMS FOR MANAGERS
Many companies host regular, planned events(either virtual or in-person) for leaders andmanagers. The goal: to get them more deeplyinvolved in the business beyond theirimmediate business unit. This helps themprovide context about new developments whenengaging with their teams. It also serves as anopportunity for managers to interact with seniorleaders and their peers. Some communicationdepartments set up virtual discussions via Yammer, Sharepoint or other interactiveplatforms just for those who manage people.
How much time before a major announcementdo your leaders and managers get to reviewtalking points before they must communicatewith employees? Often,
it’s only a matter of
minutes. Provide managers as much time aspossible to become familiar with theircommunication materials, while of course notcreating any regulatory disclosure issues. If feasible, schedule a call before announcements so managers can askquestions and prepare for communicating with their employees. Some companies do this ahead of quarterlyearnings announcements, sharing a preview of the release (with actual numbers omitted) the night before. At oneorganization, managers join a call with the CEO and ask him their toughest questions. Consequently, managers get
to learn more and the CEO is able to prep for questions he’ll
later get from analysts.
OFFER COMMUNICATION AND STORYTELLING TOOLS
Provide leaders and managers a central place to find everything they need for their c
ommunication. Whether it’s a
standalone website or section on the intranet, house all templates, toolkits, sample materials and communicationguidance there. One organization
follows a “60/40” formula in delivering
materials for every announcement: Sixtypercent of the content is standard for everyone in the company, while managers have autonomy to customize the
remaining 40 percent to address their team’s interests.
PROVIDE TARGETED TRAINING AND COACHING
Just as communications prowess varies from leader to leader, so do the types of training programs available tothem. Many companies start by assessing
, then creating a mix of in-person workshops and self-paced online modules. Typically, these focus on general communication skills (such as training for first-timemanagers) or on specific topics (conveying strategy, crisis communication, engaging employees during times of change, etc.). Often, communicators will offer senior-level executives one-on-one coaching and support with thegoal of empowering these leaders to communicate effectively on their own. One client recently launched a training program to help managers develop their own personal storytelling approach to drive change with their teams, even
when the communications staff wasn’t present