Communication in almost any form can be challenging, but those in the C-Suite face a variety of obstacles and hurdles when speaking with those on different levels, especially when connecting with those on the human resource floor.
C-Suite Executives have long had a false and negative reputation for being the “big guy” (or gal, to be fair) that hang out behind their desks the majority of the time. Employees not involved in certain aspects of a business often assume that executives do nothing more than hold lengthy meetings, take extended lunches and entertain important clients, when the exact opposite may be true.
When it comes to dining out with corporate buddies, research tells us that the majority of senior executives only spend 35 minutes out of the full hour of their lunch. In fact, many of them also work through their lunch break at least three times a week. And those lengthy meetings? According to the same research, 45% of Chief Officers feel that employees and executives would be more productive if those get togethers were limited to once a week.
So how can executives better communicate with their employees? Seeking guidance from other CEOs can be very valuable:
Spark the Fire for Communication & Engagement
In a recent interview, Brian J. Dunn, CEO of Best Buy, contemplates this question, “How am I going to deepen my relationship with employees and deepen the conversation that goes on where they are?” He goes on to advise that we should become a part of the conversation rather than having it go on around us. Don’t wait for your human resource department to come to you with their concerns, be willing and able to go to them with yours. Sharing is caring.
The majority of line managers rely on accountants to provide them with financial support, such as budgeting and monthly reporting, but according to a recent survey, “HR’s influence in the workplace and with the C-suite has increased more than 50 percent over the past two years,” implying that HR initiatives have become more increasingly aligned with business strategies, and more involved in planning the annual budget.
Many leaders believe and support the idea that every HR team member should take responsibility for some line items in the budget. Encourage team ownership with your HR department and have them take on the stationary budget, coordinating travel and/or accommodation.
Let Them Know You’re Listening
Another way of effectively communicating with people is to understand them first in order to connect with them more intimately. Often people in different levels of an organization are intimidated by the “big boss,” but HRPA believes that HR departments are highly valued and appreciated by their leaders and executive officers. They also state that their HR departments need to “forecast critical social, legislative and people trends, leading the organization in implementing programs that have front-line buy-in and really matter to the business.”
This shows that HR leaders are themselves taking on an active leadership role and that they value that role within their business and care about its success. The advice here is that they could possibly learn some important lessons from their C Suite executives on how to become a more effective leader.
Open the communication door with them by giving a much needed pat on the back and offer your own advice. Listen to their ideas on how to improve your organization as a whole.
In conclusion, remember that communication is a two-way street, but often we can lose the science of speaking when we forget about the art of listening.