You’ve heard it before, and I’ll say it again: 2020 changed how companies view employee engagement and perceive executive communication skills. Employees are reevaluating their lives after COVID and are leaving their unfulfilling jobs in record numbers.
Economists are calling this drastic loss of organizations’ most promising people The Great Resignation. Millennials are putting their happiness and satisfaction at a company first, and there’s no denying that employee engagement is the why.
It’s a time of great opportunity for people-minded communicators. Boardrooms are full of frustrated and confused business leaders looking to solve a problem they don’t completely understand.
Imagine you could walk into that plush conference room and see the thought bubbles above everyone’s head. The room would be filled to the brim with buzzwords and high-level concepts that are a C-suite member’s 5-Hour Energy.
They’re not sure what to care about, so they’re going back to their trusty business school solves.
Finally, there’s a space for you and your internal communications team at the table. Though that chair isn’t guaranteed, and it can be taken away at any moment.
How to Improve Executive Communication Skills
These 3 steps will help you improve your executive communication skills. As a result, you will move your department to a place where you’re ready to take on employee experience planning and face The Great Resignation head-on.
Auditing Your Weekly Tasks
Thinking strategically takes time.
Take a look at what you’re doing now, pick some colors, and open up Excel. See if you can color code the time your team spends during the week on things like:
- Strategic planning
- Creating newsletters
- Analyzing data
As a communicator, you have too many mouths to feed. Social media, email, actually responding to Kathy from HR’s requests – but they aren’t equal-value providers. But when was the last time you stopped to ask yourself, “Why?”
What tasks take up a large chunk of your time that can be turned into a “recipe card” for another position or cut downtime spent with the right tool?
Finding tools can help you streamline the department’s processes and cut back on duplicative efforts. Things like branded templates for your employee newsletters, automating your comms reporting, and meeting notes can give you more time for strategic planning.
Catch Up On Your Executive Communication Skills
Picture it – you’re in the room, giving the presentation of your life. You have strong visuals, killer research and are exuding passion for the subject. But you don’t have adequate executive communication skills. Then you try to make meaningful eye contact with leaders in the room and are met with a glazed, bored stare.
As a communicator coming from a reporting or HR background, it’s no surprise that the lexicon used for big wig presentations isn’t what you’re used to.
You’re just speaking a different language. They’ve only heard “employee experience” concerning retention in Newsweek or on a business podcast; they aren’t familiar with the components.
You’ve got to get them to listen before they begin to understand.
To grab their attention, you should focus on using more data-driven, business-buzzword language. We’ve put together a couple of Mad Libs-style examples to test out the next time you present.
With these phrases, you’ll definitely see some nods and maybe a note or two being taken.
We all know that colleague that moves mountains with 10 slides. The one whose leadership meetings always end with “send over a proposal” or “what would it take to make this happen?”
So, ask them to be your cipher. Take them out to coffee for an honest conversation about cracking the code and what magic keywords they use that wow at board presentations.
At times, leading something unfamiliar to leadership can make you feel like you’re on an island. It’s important to remember that you have peers that want to help you succeed because a good employee experience directly impacts their departments.
Assemble a Dream Team with IT and HR
HR and IT are gatekeepers to some of the most important employee experience touchpoints but can be some of the toughest relationships to manage. If these stakeholders don’t have buy-in with your initiatives, problems will start popping up with the frequency of your local arcade’s Whack-a-Mole.
Especially when it comes to your tech team, we all know how it feels when someone pitches an 80% baked project that you should’ve been involved in at 20%. It’s a messy, time suck that you can’t help but take a little personally. That’s how it feels when departments dump projects at IT’s door.
Before you schedule any meetings with your main contacts, it’s important to understand your company’s procurement process and department structures. After you do some of that homework, invite your IT and HR counterparts to separate partnership kick-off meetings.
This is a time to connect with your peers by asking about their business goals, how to provide each other with long-term value, and what makes their employees tick.
Here are some questions to get that conversation started:
- What keeps you up at night?
- Can you share your department’s biggest pains?
- What are your team’s biggest business drivers?
- How can my team help you?
- How do our team’s goals intersect?
- What metrics from your department would make a CFO salivate?
You need all three teams to support an initiative to get the approval of your CFO.
We’ve created a spreadsheet that’ll speak any CFOs love language – hard numbers. You can access and duplicate our Internal Communications ROI Calculator.
Make sure you run these numbers past your new business partners in IT and HR, as well as grabbing figures from a credible source like accounting.
For more tips on making the perfect IC, IT, and HR trifecta, you can listen to this Internal Comms Pro podcast episode that gets a bit more nitty-gritty from an internal communicator perspective.
You Belong at the Table
It’s taken a while for companies to notice, but your department’s influence and impact on the organization will only increase in the wake of the pandemic.
It might take a few runs to gain your footing. Still, by making time for strategic planning, using language your board will connect, and creating lasting cross-departmental relationships, you’re laying the groundwork that’ll reap great benefits.
Did that sentence sound a tad too dull and businessy? Sometimes you might have to change up your jargon to connect with different stakeholders. But as the captain of the digital employee experience, you’ve always belonged in a seat at the table. Now you have to grab ahold of the ship and navigate leadership through the storm.
Want to know how Cerkl Broadcast’s internal communication platform can help support your executive communication skills? We are happy to show you! Schedule a demo now.