The majority of the work I do is behind-the-scenes. I am the one writing talking points for a panel discussion, drafting the executive topper that you see at the start of a newsletter or annual report, and drafting emails and PowerPoint slides that others will send or present. It’s more than just packaging and “prettying up” slides—my role is figuring out what to say and how to say it so the key messages are received.
It's a job fit for an octopus.
Five things every executive needs to know about communicating with their team
- People will read everything you share. In a world of FULL inboxes, your email is the one that people open first—and that no one will miss. (It’s the most important communications channel in your organization!) Also, they’ll know if you’ve taken time to personalize a message or had someone draft it for you, without your input. They know your voice.
- The higher you climb, the less likely you are to receive candid feedback. You already know this as it relates to so many aspects of your growth as a leader, and it pertains to your communications as well. We get work done through talk. How you communicate is how you come across. Seek out those trusted colleagues who can give it to you STRAIGHT—and create a culture of feedback so you can ensure you are not missing something.
- People will do things because you said so. They will do things willingly if they understand why, and see their part in the effort. It’s more efficient to dictate, and in times of crisis that may be necessary. But you didn’t rise through the ranks to run a dictatorship. Bring people along. Genuinely listen to input. Explain your thinking behind a decision, and help others see how they fit into the issue and the solution.
- Strategic + Tactical. The best leaders keep the details in mind while painting the bigger picture. They inspire people around a vision while also knowing the milestones of a project roadmap. It’s not ‘either or,’ it’s ‘yes, and.’ Strategic and tactical.
- Nothing is ‘one and done.’ Feel like you need to keep repeating yourself? Yes. It’s true. We can’t rely on the mention at the top of the meeting or on the ONE email. (Think about how many times the server at your favorite restaurant needs to repeat the daily specials.) We need to hear things more than once, and we need a chance for discussion. If you’re providing an update on a complex issue or a major change initiative, make it easy for your team to share information and provide input. Provide a walk-around deck or a one-pager. Create an easy-to-share email or set up office hours dedicated to discussing a topic. You can’t rush it.