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Edelman Connections - Leadership Communication

Edelman Connections - Leadership Communication

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Published by: Edelman on Nov 15, 2012
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08/11/2013

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CONNECTIONS
 An Edelman perspective on making meaningfulemployee connections that deepen engagement,build trust and accelerate business performance.
 
For more information, please contact Edelman EmployeeEngagement atemployee.engagement@edelman.com. 
 
Communicators say “improving line managercommunications” is their
No. 1 challenge
 
(Melcrum Member Survey)
Only
41 percent
 of employees say their leaderscreate a dialogue with them.
(2011-12 Towers Watson Change & Comm. ROI Study)
Only
40 percent
 of employees say the CEO is acredible source of information.
 (2012 Edelman Trust Barometer)
NOVEMBER 2012
EXPLAIN, ENGAGE, EXECUTE
 
FIVE STRATEGIES FOR HELPING LEADERS BECOME BETTER COMMUNICATORS
 
Picture a strong leader
. What makes them so special? Most likely, they deliver solid business results. Respond tocustomer needs. Capitalize on emerging trends. And demonstrate less-quantifiable behaviors as well: Walking thehalls and connecting with employees. Sharing information freely and proactively. Simply listening.
It’s clear that a
 strong leader has both functional expertise and communication skills.This is
n’t a
profound or new revelation. But i
t’s
easy to lose sight of this basic truth as socialmedia and a 24/7 news cycle give employeesother avenues for gaining information abouttheir company. Still, bosses continue to holdenormous influence over their teams. Indeed,leaders who demonstrate effectivecommunication skills can:
 
Minimize turnover and retain top talent
 
Align employees’ work with strategy
 
 
Increase trust in leadership
 
Surface emerging issues early
 
Limit distractions caused by rumors orspeculation
DEVELOPING LEADERS’
COMMUNICATION SKILLS: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
Not every leader thinks about communication as often as they do the latest sales numbers. Some are just lesscomfortable engaging with their teams. Fortunately, leadership communication is a teachable skill. Numeroustraining programs are available to help build such competencies, some customized right down to the individual.Generally speaking, though, the companies that best empower their leaders to communicate treat them as a specialpopulation, not just as a communications channel. They engage leaders in the business so they have the skills andcontext to initiate conversations with their teams to:
 
Explain
new information
 
Engage
employees in dialogue
 
Agree on actions they will
Execute
 Typically this approach involves combining several strategies to provide leaders the confidence and context tocommunicate. Here are five critical ones...
 
 
2For more information, please contact Edelman EmployeeEngagement atemployee.engagement@edelman.com. 
CONNECTIONS
Fro
m Edelman’s Employee Engagement
Practice | October 2012
LEADERSHIP COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
 
1.
 
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.
2.
 
PROVIDE ADVANCENOTIFICATION
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.
3.
 
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.
4.
 
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 
managers’ skills
, 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
.

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