7 Ways CEOs “Stay Close” in Large Organizations

Consider "no-email Friday"

Today the large enterprise has people scattered across the globe—but the success of any culture rests on relationship and human engagement. Influential leaders find ways to stay “close” to employees, no matter what size organization they lead.

Here are seven ways to stay in touch

1. Get Real. If your company communication has become so over-engineered it sounds like a brochure, find a way to get real.  You can shorten the distance by being more personal—communicating to human beings.  Wells Fargo Capital Finance CEO Henry Jordan has been sending a Daily Thought to his employees for decades. People look forward to them—and mention them to colleagues in daily interactions:  “Did you see Henry’s Daily Thought?”  Encourage people to write and speak like people. Drop the formality, jargon and business slang. Post regular video messages to employees without polished production on the intranet. Speak with clarity and simplicity and tell personal stories.

2. Leave your office. Watch out for getting stuck on the top floor. Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good likes to search out employees spontaneously to thank them for a job well done. If they’re out she leaves a sticky note to say a simple “Thank you!—Lynn.” She makes the culture highly personal for the individuals and teams.

3. Listen. Pull everyone to the table.  Find people in every division you can call on to tell you what is really happening. Treat everyone as insiders who deserve to know everything you can tell them as soon as you can tell them. Share your personal vision for the future. Talk to people on elevators. Open an email address for employees to give you feedback.

4. Hit the road.  If you can’t bring everyone to you, go to them. Hit the road and hold town hall meetings.  Allow people to ask questions. Telecast the meetings to the entire organization. Create a culture of conversation and the human connection.

5. Open space for interactions.  I have conducted courses in spaces of all descriptions—some open and inviting, some stifling and downright ugly. There’s no doubt that space and room setup impact the openness, possibility and the flow of expression.  What I notice about open cultures is that thought has been given to space that encourages daily interactions around common areas that will help employees unlock the next great idea.

6. Discourage an electronic culture. People are spending hours managing email that does nothing to create real change or influence the future. Consider raising awareness with “No email Fridays” and “No Email Weekends” for team communication. Encourage employees to walk across the aisle or pick up the phone to interact with a teammate.

7. Touch people with purpose. Strataforce CEO Tana Greene is the author of the book, Creating a World of Difference, with proceeds going to help benefit the families of employees in crisis. The employees run the foundation, which has ennobled their work and give them great satisfaction.

People are not inspired by emails or polished documents. These proven strategies harness the engagement that results from building a culture that places value on human communication.

 

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Avatar for Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur.com, CEO.com, and Fast Company.