Communicate Frequently, Transparently, and Authentically
You’ve probably noticed that communication is part of almost every chapter in CEO Tools 2.0. This is both by design and at the request of every stakeholder in your company: employees, managers, customers, vendors, and shareholders. Each stakeholder has the same need for the company to communicate more frequently with greater transparency in authentic language. Think about how to overcommunicate, and you'll probably hit the right mark.
The Importance of Communicating
Creating a scheduled and structured communication process is vital to keep people informed about routine decisions, upcoming changes, and achievements. The goal is to eliminate the I-didn’t-know phenomenon, which derails delegation and decision-making efforts, and creates a victim mentality and learned helplessness.
Ensuring that everyone is on the same page is one of the benefits of a twelve-month company calendar—perhaps one of the most valuable and effective communication tools you can create. It’s a great way to ensure that your entire team stays on top of meetings, the dates of essential deliverables, visits by off-site employees or consultants, and other company business and events.
A company calendar accomplishes two more things. It tells employees that you trust them to manage their own time and hit the due dates on the calendar. And the clarity that the calendar provides allows employees to plan their vacations months ahead without fear that a company obligation will sabotage their plans. It’s a win-win-win—for you, your team members, and the company.
As you think about other communications, consider the value of creating a communications schedule for your company. Remember, your goal should be to overcommunicate with your team.
Creating the Right Communication Schedule
To help you get started, here’s a suggestion for annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily communications:
Debrief and review the prior year’s results. Focus on the facts and metrics, not the stories, to determine what actually happened.
Using your analysis, update the multi-year strategic plans and develop the current year’s annual tactics to establish next actions and quarterly objectives.
Review resource allocations and determine what, if any, capital investments should be made for the future of the company.
Create a budget for the upcoming year.
Engage your people in these conversations. Solicit their opinions and challenge them to come up with new and fresh approaches.
Communicate the results of these activities using the One-Page Business Plan and through a full complement of communication tools—written, visual, and verbal—in small groups, company meetings, and one-on-one.
Review the actual results versus projected results using the Quarterly Priorities Manager (QPM) and Quarterly Debrief. The Quarterly Debrief follows a structured format. Ask what went well. Once the successes and accomplishments have been gathered, ask, “Can we expect more of that?”
Review what didn’t work for the quarter. Watch for justifications and deflecting responsibility. Create an atmosphere of blameless problem-solving. Ask, “What did we learn from what happened?” The answers can prevent you from repeating the situation or realizing the same outcome.
If the conversation about what was learned wasn’t very positive, turn that around by asking, “Who should we appreciate for their contribution? Who made a difference, created a great result, or pitched in across departments to help out?”
Then ask how they should be recognized and by whom. Obviously, the kudos should come from their manager or supervisor, but sometimes you can make a bigger impact if the recognition comes from someone else in the company—for example, the chief executive officer or the head of another department.
Conduct quarterly business reviews with the whole company. Often called “all-hands meetings,” they have formal agendas but a casual feel. Include a financial review, market growth and penetration review, new customer acquisition highlights, and an operations and service/support report. And be sure to recognize newly hired people, employees celebrating work anniversaries, and any other significant events.
Each month, review results and make any needed course corrections. Use the metrics on Trailing 12 Month (T12M) Charts and look for opportunities for recognition.
Engage direct reports in one-on-one meetings to continue building those relationships and to build trust.
Review results weekly to identify any issues and assess cash needs. Weekly reviews serve as an early-warning system, eliminating surprises that could otherwise come too late in the month to rectify.
Avoid the need for last-minute pushes for orders or sales by identifying any shortfalls during the first and second weeks of the month.
Some companies or departments benefit from a daily huddle—a short stand-up meeting or a conference call to establish quick priorities and address any issues.
Every day, walk the four corners and check in on your key players to see if you can help them or support their efforts.
No matter how you choose to communicate, make sure it is done frequently, transparently, and authentically. Remember, overcommunicating is the goal.