Chief executive officer
“We find that separating today’s divisive climate with our company culture is more important than ever. When addressing hot-button issues, the most successful strategy we’ve found is to keep conversations focused on facts surrounding current issues and highlight how issues directly impact our business and the team. Focusing on specific facts which impact the business and an action item relating to those effects will keep the conversation productive. Keeping the focus on the team reinforces unity while also steering clear of generalizations that can be divisive.
“We believe a strong culture of inclusion and unity is also imperative and we find the tone needs to be set from the top. Management training is a great opportunity to express the importance of the team culture to managers with ‘relatedness’ as one of the pillars of motivation. It’s critical that every employee feels safe, secure and part of the team. We found internal marketing to be a great tool in reinforcing this, which is even more important when employees are working from home. We use themes like, ‘We Built This’ (2019) and ‘All Systems Go’ (2021) to help frame our team goals for the year.
“Another tip: A great resource we use is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which offers a wealth of information regarding issues our business faces.”
President and chief executive officer
Kane Communications Group
“The past year certainly provided us with a number of hot-button issues. How businesses respond to those issues can have a big impact on a company’s reputation. Increasingly, people want to see CEOs take a stand on social issues. Determining how to address those issues with employees is also a factor in your company’s reputation. Employees want to know where their leaders stand. You have to decide what’s best for your personal brand and your company’s brand.
“One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to listen. If something significant is going on in the world, don’t be afraid to have conversations with your team. In fact, I encourage it. Find out how they are doing, processing or coping with the issue. If it’s a topic that has divided your team, encourage respectful discussion, with a focus on listening to both sides. Remind your team that people are allowed to have different opinions. Empathy goes a long way with both internal and external audiences. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes so you can see and understand their perspective.”
President and chief executive officer
“We’ve all learned a lot in the past year as a result of COVID, and one key has been the need for empathy and connection, demonstrated in new ways. Business needs must be met, yes, but showing kindness and understanding especially during difficult times is essential. Critical business decisions require us to sometimes take a step back and think:
Am I being authentic? Sincerity and transparency can’t be faked.
Am I being proactive – operating in the moment, but looking forward as well? Balancing the ‘now’ and ‘tomorrow’ is important.
Perfection slows you down; people want genuine, timely information. Communicating much more often in a less-than-perfect way is far better than waiting for the perfect time – that almost never happens.
Video or podcasts are a great way to help keep employees informed. Staff appreciate seeing and hearing you, not just getting ‘one more email.’
Tell it to them straight so they can trust and count on what you say.
Listening sessions make you available for those individuals who need or want more, need reassurance. No prep necessary – just show up and connect, share generously.
Always express gratitude – every day in every way you can.”
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