Leverage the Influence of Senior Leaders to Power Up Your Internal Communications

Jan 19, 2024
Leverage the Influence of Senior Leaders to Power Up Your Internal Communications

By Dana Haase, Senior Vice President

In today’s corporate landscape, communications professionals face a trifecta of challenges when it comes to informing and engaging employees:

  • Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workplace report showed that up to 77% of workers globally are disengaged.
  • Middle managers are struggling, with 89% saying they experienced burnout in 2023.
  • Researchers estimate that the human attention span is now just 8 seconds.

Overcoming these challenges – all of which can have an impact on productivity and corporate performance – requires prioritizing internal audiences and making a strategic shift in corporate communications. One powerful yet often underutilized channel is the activation of senior leaders as communication ambassadors.

Senior leaders hold a unique position within an organization’s hierarchy, making them invaluable communication assets. They are not only decision-makers but also influencers with the power to shape perceptions and motivate their teams. By equipping and activating senior leaders, you can harness this influence to achieve critical communications and corporate objectives.

You might be thinking to yourself, “But leaders are busy individuals who already carry a great deal of responsibility in their roles. When is tapping into this group warranted? And how do I empower them to be effective communicators?”

Based on our experience with structuring and implementing senior leader activation programs, below are the circumstances that benefit from their involvement and the tools they need to be effective communications ambassadors.

Establishing Governance Around Senior Leader Activation

A judicious approach to senior leader activation is best. If everything is deemed important, then nothing is important. We recommend enlisting this group for communications that:

  • Pertain to your company’s growth and financial health: Call on them to articulate the company’s financial status, growth trajectory, and outlook. Senior leaders are also in the best position to connect the business strategy to individual roles within their function and convey how this supports the company’s overall vision.
  • Address significant external crises: Senior leaders can provide reassurance, context, and guidance during challenging times.
  • Promote significant milestones: Celebrate achievements and recognize the collective efforts of the workforce.
  • Introduce important enterprise-wide initiatives: Champion new initiatives to gain support and engagement across the organization.
  • Convey difficult news: Leaders closest to their teams can deliver difficult news with empathy and support.

Equipping Senior Leaders to be Communications Ambassadors

In our experience, senior leader activation programs are most successful when they incorporate the following tactics:

  • Develop an easy-to-use leader toolkit/playbook: Define expectations, benefits, and the role of senior leaders as communication ambassadors.
  • Leverage existing touchpoints: Use known communication channels to seamlessly integrate senior leaders into the information flow.
  • Provide ready-to-use materials: Create a concise PowerPoint slide summarizing key messages accompanied by a cover note with suggestions on how to share the information, e.g., “Top 5 Messages to Take Back to Your Teams.”
  • Give advance notice: Establish a structured information “cascade” by providing senior leaders with advance notices, tools, and resources after major announcements, e.g., FAQs
  • Establish a feedback loop: Implement a senior leader input and feedback loop to foster partnership and communication ambassadorship without overwhelming leaders with additional workload.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer sharing: Create collaboration channels (e.g., MS Teams, Slack) exclusively for senior leaders to share solutions, successes, and learnings amongst themselves.

In the evolving landscape of corporate communications, senior leader activation has become a strategic imperative. By empowering senior leaders to be effective communication ambassadors, organizations can bridge the gap between strategic objectives and employee engagement.

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