Leaders need to communicate effectively to be successful

ByHanover Team
Posting date: 11 October 2022

In previous decades when we have had crises, the consequent uncertainty and lack of economic growth have also meant rising unemployment and stagnant wages. However, we also have uncertainty and change as a constant in our society, including in the workplace, our expectation of economic growth and prosperity, the climate, geopolitics and the cost of living are all pressing issues of the age.

Today, in a period of uncertainty and crisis, we are learning to live with full employment in many sectors and a shortage of job applicants. We have also come out of a pandemic that was the catalyst for change in the workplace that not many foresaw happening so quickly, helped along by ubiquitous and affordable technology.  

Social media commentary relating to the changing workplace has mostly covered how the newfound freedoms of the workforce should become the norm post-pandemic and the importance of well-being and balance in our lives. However, I think that has started to change recently. The challenge is for employers to communicate even more effectively to their employees about their aims and ambitions and how they plan to get there as a critical tool in hiring and retaining staff. 

I think people work for leaders first, companies second, with compensation and benefits not far behind. Those three aspects must align with an employee’s expectations for a happy working relationship. In recent years the discussion over attracting and retaining staff has focused too much on the trivial, such as ping pong tables and snacks, too much on very subjective definitions of value and culture, and not enough on what the company is trying to achieve and where each person fits in. 

Growing companies is complex. The C-suite team have to live with demanding shareholders, competition, change as a constant, unforeseen crises and the expectation to be better each year. Communicating all those issues to workers who have to juggle their own rising costs and their personal challenges is not easy. The temptation is to focus on the positive only to keep morale high and keep everyone together, as we often see with politicians who believe that keeping them in power at all costs is the best for everyone. Company executives cannot get away with that kind of hubris for long; they need to justify why people should follow them daily by action and example. 

Company leaders have to be more transparent now than they have been about their responsibility to look after their teams and provide substance to terms such as balance and purpose. 

Twenty years ago, companies rushed to develop tag lines to sit under their logos to show how special they were. In recent years companies have tried hard to find their uniqueness in distilling their values and a belief that will hold everyone together and impress their clients. Sorry for the cynicism that I am struggling to hide! 

My personal hope is that more CEOs and their teams take more time to communicate, educate and inspire through their vision, honesty and dedication. The top team need to be aligned, there needs to be some tangible and defined goals, and communication needs to be regular and personal.  

Where are we going?  

Why are we going there?  

How will we get there?  

Where do I fit in?  

And above all, How do I benefit from getting there? 

These are the key questions that prospective and existing employees ask themselves. 

Some companies will benefit from a genuinely unique market position and will do well based on a great product and good timing, but not forever, and most companies will never have that benefit; they will need to fight for everything. In the heat of that battle, the commitment to communication can falter, or the quality of the communication can be lost.  

The way through for many is honesty, based on the principle that you can bring people with you if they know why they are doing what they do, they believe in you, and they can see the reward. 

Successful relationships work on the basis of communication. Therefore, employers and employees work best with two-way communication as a priority. 

At Hanover we are asked on a daily basis to find leaders who can manage stakeholders across an enterprise and build their teams with clarity of purpose and usually drive change. We use experience, team work and a set of proven practices to research, approach, assess and place the best candidates available. We also draw on a team of leadership and assessment professionals to help us and our clients achieve successful outcomes and the development of their leaders.  

If we can help you in finding the right people or helping you develop your crucial staff, contact me and let’s set up a time for a chat. 

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