Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
We all know that good communication is the foundation of a successful relationship. Whether it’s with your friend, your spouse or your family, sharing your thoughts and feelings is key to having a relationship based on trust and understanding.
So why is it that as soon as we step into work mode, we forget that the same rules apply?
When you’re the person in charge, you’re privy to the ins and outs of the organization. You know the direction the business is going in, its goals, achievements and challenges. But how you experience your business and how your employees experience it are two very different perspectives.
In my 20-plus years as the CEO of my company, I’ve learned an important lesson: Staff wants their leaders to continually communicate what’s going on. And I’m not talking 35 emails by 9 a.m. What I’m referring to goes beyond assigning tasks and checking up on deadlines. I’m referring to sharing what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and why the company they work for matters.
If you’re wondering whether you’re an effective communicator, here are three questions to consider:
• How are you communicating? Is it via email, video calls and/or face-to-face meetings?
• Are you being transparent about where the business is and what the financials are?
• Are you connecting with every role or department so staff knows their contribution to the overall strategic plan?
Everyone wants to contribute, but in many companies, employees don’t know how because the company is keeping it a secret. They don’t even know what the overall goals of the company are — and if they don’t know what they are, how can they do their best work? How can they even understand what they’re supposed to be doing?
Whether you oversee thousands of employees or you’re a small business that consists of a handful of staff, you can still implement the same tactics to ensure you’re keeping people in the loop. You can call it a town hall, an all-hands or simply a quarterly check-in, but being front and center to your team is imperative for communication.
I understand that you can’t tell people everything about your business — there are some matters that are definitely confidential. However, at the very least, they should know the basics. Share the company’s quarterly, bi-annual or annual goals. Tell them why they’re important and what all departments are doing to help contribute and achieve these KPIs. Are you planning to open more locations? Expand into new territories? Tackle a new industry? These are all things that will excite your staff and make them feel a part of the bigger picture.
And if you can, get personal. Be transparent and vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, admit what you don’t know and be open to feedback. If you’ve had a rough quarter, tell them that. If you’re worried about a competitor, say it. Don’t sugarcoat it. Your staff is smart and intuitive. I bet they already know what’s keeping you up at night, even if you think they’re far removed from the nitty-gritty of the business details. So involve them. Being a leader can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be a one-person show.
Think about it: Would you really be friends with someone who never told you a thing about themselves? A regular check-in can truly work wonders for staff retention and overall engagement. The key is to stay consistent and available. Open up the floor so employees can ask questions and share insights from their roles. They’re often your first communication point with customers, so they could have incredible feedback you hadn’t considered.
Like any relationship, communication is hard work. It’s a muscle we continually have to work out. But in the end, you and your team will be so much stronger because of it.