CEO, COO, or CFO. Whether you hold one of these titles or you are in any type of leadership role, while that ‘C’ in your title may often stand for ‘Chief,’ it should also refer to chief communicator.
While Corporate Communications may be a specific department in larger organizations, the truth is that communications play a role in every employee’s job and is even more important for managers and C-Suite executives.
According to a recent Robert Half Management Resources study, “communication and diplomacy were rated as the top two skills that managers most needed to improve (30%) and communication skills were rated as more important than technical skills.”
So what happens when you have poor communication in organizations?
In my work with business leaders, one of the themes that comes up time after time is a lack of open and transparent communication between the C-Suite and their teams. The core problem is that leadership often fails to adequately communicate the company’s vision and priorities, resulting in productivity losses as employees scramble to figure out where they should put their focus. With this lack of focus, the most important tasks are often poorly executed, particularly in change management efforts. According to Robert Half, a lack of communication accounts for a 46% failure rate during the execution phase of change management in organizations.
So what can leaders do to get everyone on the same page and steer the ship to calmer waters?
First, leadership needs to get clear on their vision and top priorities. As the Alice in Wonderland quote says, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
Second, involve your people. Make sure that there are systems in place where employees at all levels can contribute feedback anonymously on the challenges they are facing and suggestions they have to make improvements. Set aside time on a monthly basis to review this feedback and make changes as necessary. Remember that everyone has something to contribute, and the best way to make changes at the ground level is to be listening to employees at all levels.
Third, building a culture demonstrating that communication and collaboration are valued will encourage employees to reach out across levels and help each other. Maintain an open-door policy that lets employees know that they can come to you to brainstorm or get help on solutions, and most importantly, model these leadership qualities for others. By maintaining a positive and encouraging attitude and a willingness to ask for and give help, you will send the subtle message that others have permission to do the same. Consider formalizing a culture where it’s safe and easy to ask for and give help to others by encouraging your team to read Give and Take by Adam Grant, which details all the reasons that givers at work tend to be the most successful.
Finally, work on your empathy. We all have egos and it can sometimes to be hard to admit when we’ve made mistakes, but true servant leadership means it’s not about you. Make sure that when you listen to your team members, you acknowledge their contributions.
A wise mentor of mine said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” As a leader, your job is to communicate the vision, motivate your people, and give them the space to devise and execute better solutions.
Communications is critical for success in every role but as its non-negotiable for leaders. Author G. Riley Mills wrote “Communication is not a soft skill. It affects the bottom line and offers tangible returns on investment.” So invest in your communication today and watch your productivity and profits soar.
Guest blogger Julia Wojnar is the Founder of Unleash Your Presence, where she develops professionals resilience, speaking, and communication skills to tackle tough decisions and express their ideas clearly and confidently. She holds a B.S. in Communication Management and Design from Ithaca College’s Park School, has fifteen years of stage experience, and has been featured on The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Grant Cardone’s Whatever It Takes Network, and iHeartRadio, among others. To access your Corporate Communications Checklist and learn more, visit www.unleashyourpresence.com.