Taking action to improve your organization can often require a significant investment of time and money. However, there are some opportunities that are relatively inexpensive to improve that will greatly benefit your organization. One such opportunity is leadership communication. Taking time to ensure leadership has an open line of communication with your employees can improve morale, engagement, and help drive organizational change.
Increase Use of Communication Channels
If employees are not kept informed by a trusted source, they tend to create their own reality. For example, your workforce may have the perception that leadership is ineffective. These perceptions can stem from past experiences or just workplace gossip. Regardless of their merit, these perceptions can have a negative impact on employee morale. For this reason, having a two-way line of communication in which leadership and employees can communicate with each other is very important. This gives leaders a chance to impact employee perceptions while providing employees an opportunity to be heard. This type of communication can be created through the use of tools such as employee experience surveys, social events, and even one-on-one communication. If leadership properly uses these communication channels, they have the power to directly impact morale.
While improving morale is great, it would be even better to drive employee engagement. The two can be easily confused, but typically engagement is seen as something that has a greater impact on organizational success. For example, “Margarita Monday” would very likely improve morale but would be less likely to improve engagement. Drivers of engagement are traditionally factors that impact employees directly, such as compensation or career advancement. However, People Element has seen a recent trend that breaks from that tradition. In fact, 80% of the engagement surveys we have administered since the beginning of 2017 have shown leadership perception items as a top driver of engagement. Furthermore, each of these items can be improved by better communication from leadership. For example, if your engagement survey uncovers low perceptions around leadership modeling organizational values, increased and targeted communication from leadership can go a long way to improve this perception. Even areas traditionally linked to engagement such as career opportunities can be impacted by better leadership communication. It is just a matter of leadership listening to employee feedback and responding with a plan of action. While the action taken will have the greatest impact on this perception, leadership communication will drive the change.
Leadership Communication Drives Meaningful Change
Communication from leadership is one of the most effective tools to drive meaningful organizational change. When partnering with a client, People Element strives to obtain a dedicated leadership sponsor because this greatly improves the probability of success. It makes holding people accountable and taking action a great deal easier. The same can be said for any ongoing change initiative your organization has underway. Leadership can act as a sponsor for change by keeping excitement high, ensuring focus is maintained and modeling the change the organization is striving to achieve. However, this cannot occur without having proper communication channels set up. “Strong communication from leaders can help strengthen employee levels of comfort and confidence”, says Megan Younkin – Director of Consulting at People Element. “On the other hand, a lack of communication from leadership can create fear and doubt. When employees don’t hear from leadership, they create their own version of the story”.
Improving leadership communication will not cost your organization a great deal of money. Primarily, you will be investing time to take advantage of this opportunity.
Ensure the following are in place:
- Set up multiple communication channels that allow leadership to communicate with employees (intranet, social functions, email, etc.)
- Ensure employees have a way to communicate with leadership (surveys, suggestion boxes, meetings, etc.)
- Use these communication channels openly, honestly and often to drive improvement and keep employees informed.
Steady communication from leadership can improve employee morale, engagement and help drive organizational change. Do not let the efforts of your leadership team go unnoticed. If time is money, taking time to create or sharpen leadership communication will give you significant return on investment.