What are the hot topics for employees in your organisation? What are the things that are really bothering them? How often do they hear your personal views, as the Chief Executive, about these?
The truth is, unless you work in a micro-organisation, chances are the people that you lead don't hear directly from you nearly as often as they want to.
You see, I've found that in organisations with as few as 60 employees, people feel that the Chief Executive (or Managing Director or General Manager – whatever the top leader in that business is called) doesn't really understand what matters to them, has critical information that they're not sharing and is remote. And this feeling increases the larger the organisation becomes.
Ironically, however, if you're like most Chief Execs, chances are...
- ...you have a good idea about what people in your business are concerned about and you have an opinion you'd be happy to share about this
- ...you aren't withholding nearly as much information as people believe you are – and you'd be quite happy to share more if you thought people were interested, and you could do so legally
But you probably ARE far more remote than you realise simply because people don't hear directly from you nearly often enough. In the past it was understandable that this happened – Chief Executives simply couldn't get direct contact with their people easily and immediately.
And there is no excuse for this today. Social media makes it possible to share quickly and easily in the moment – just look at how people of all ages keep their online friends updated about what they are doing RIGHT NOW using Facebook.
Before you fold your arms and insist that you have no intention of tweeting, blogging or Facebooking your employees, bear with me. I'm not talking about any of these – instead I'm going to share five really practical ways that you can use social media in its widest sense to dramatically improve your communication with the people you lead.
Chief Executives I talk to worry that social media isn't nearly as good as being physically present — I agree. The thing is, you have neither the time nor ability to be present everywhere when needed. Therefore, taking a serious look at using social media to interact more immediately and practically with your employees is essential. Here are five things I'd recommend.
3 ways to use videos
You can create and share short videos using your computer or phone (and I'm talking short – two or three minutes maximum) to:
- Answer the questions about the hot topics that are on employees' minds. They want to hear what you think about these and the more significant the topic, the more they want to hear from you personally rather than having your message filtered through many layers.
- Get your message out to your employees during crises before the media, the union or the grapevine does so. There is no excuse nowadays for people getting their updates from the national news about matters that significantly impact their organisation.
- Give people your take on business matters – a reorganisation, a takeover, financial results – on a timely basis. The days of the fancy corporate video with cheesy soundbites and inspirational music are gone – people want straightforward, honest information from a straightforward, honest Chief Executive.
1 way to use Webex
You can use tools such as Webex to interact with employees around the globe while you are in your office. For example, once a month, set up a 15-minute Q&A session using videoconferencing and promise that you will answer any question posed by any employee during that time.
1 way to use webinars
You can hold webinars that allow you to connect live to many people at once and can be recorded so that those who can't join live can listen later. These are invaluable during organisational change or when there is a crises.
These are all easy ways to make you more accessible to every member of your team without having to be physically present.
Social media tools make it far easier for today's Chief Executive to connect directly with their employees. This isn't a 'nice-to-have' – it's an essential part of engaging your workforce.
Social media doesn't have to be about tweeting, blogging or Facebooking – it's about using the wealth of technology that allows you to engage with your people in a direct and timely basis. Tools such as videos created on your laptop, question and answer sessions using WebEx and other similar tools, and webinars that can run live and be recorded are indispensable ways for the modern Chief Executive to engage with their workforce.