A survey of consumers and business leaders by Twilio is startling, at least to me.
- Nearly 7 out of 10 businesses think they’re communicating with their
- Only 2 out of 10 consumers agree.
Here’s the reality. Often what feels like over communication is really, truly just—communication. People need to hear your message up to seven times to really hear it. And when it comes to communication with companies, us consumers just want it to be simple.
We work with business owners and leaders throughout Indianapolis. During the course of the day they’re juggling every facet of business from human resources issues to supply chain snafus to daily sales to keep cash coming. If cash doesn’t flow, the staff isn’t paid. That’s a hard truth. Yet too many times communications (internal or external) fall to the bottom of the list. And there’s an illusion it’s ok, because maybe it already happened, someone else said it or it’s in the works.
These are self-limiting beliefs for a business owner. If a company’s external communications are not strategically aligned and managed your business’ reputation will suffer. From an employee standpoint, C-Suite executives know when internal communications are suffering because it’s hard to put key initiatives into place and subsequently keep top talent.
Companies that are highly effective at change management, engagement and communications reap the rewards:
- 5x more likely to outperform industry peers
- 20% more likely to report lower turnover rates
- 5x more likely to have managers who actively support the vision
(Study Towers Watson)
So why aren’t more leaders communicating and what should they do about it?
- They don’t know how (and that’s ok).
We have a current client who’s a master of operations and business growth. He’s the first person to say, “I don’t have a clue what to do to communicate my business.” And that’s why we work well together. I don’t know how to do so many things. I cannot fix a car, do my own taxes and am not handy around the house. There are smart and highly trained professionals who are experts in these areas. That’s why I call them to help. The key here is to be open to advice and ideas from professionals. Not all CEOs and leaders are, and it makes it hard to do the PR job when expertise and experience are disregarded.
- Business of the day always seems to outdo communications.
At 8 a.m., we all have the best intentions to accomplish a lot. We have a list of things we and a well-structured calendar of meetings. Then we look at email. Then the phone rings. People need ideas, input and feedback. Now it’s a couple hours later and nothing on that list has been scratched off. Those high priority things to do are on fire. My guess is communications and public relations isn’t among them. It should be weighted equally to other initiatives.
- It’s not a priority.
You cannot deny it. Just try! When we don’t know how to do something, it falls low in the priority list. Owning a company means wearing a lot of hats. Setting up communications goals isn’t a priority. A Forbes article from 2012 outlined what CEOs see as their #1 priority. They said, Getting and keeping top talent. Refer back to that Towers Watson survey above. It says companies that communicate well have lower turnover rates. Perhaps reprioritizing communications should become a priority for some leaders.
- Leadership is out of touch.
POPin collected responses from 163 business leaders, including C-level executives, across a variety of industries. Only 21% of executives solicit feedback from employees in person, and often that feedback is not candid. Employees fear negative career consequences for being honest. When leaders try to meet, 41% said they do townhall meetings. These typically are one-sided, favoring execs. Our team worked for a global corporation that did townhall meetings once, if not twice a year. The leaders came from Europe to talk. And talk they did! They were out of touch with the issues the employees faced in the United States. Executives talked about products that didn’t affect the people in Indianapolis, and their global business speach went over employees’ heads. And yes, we tried to coach these execs with prepared and well-presented information to no avail.
Get out from behind your desk. Talk with your staff, vendors, contractors and others who work with or for your business. Take a walk through the office and work areas. During my tenure at RCI here in Indianapolis, the CEO decided to have a contest with the call center staff. The winner got to train the CEO and have him take calls from customers. Not only did the staff love it and feel valued, but the CEO learned a lot too.
- Leadership doesn’t see the value.
Let’s go back to that opening piece of information. Seven out of 10 businesses think they’re communicating with customers effectively. Just two out of 10 consumers agree. When someone has a bad experience, they tell a friend or two or three or more. Even worse, they stop doing business with the company. Employees unhappy? They leave!
Make communications matter. It’s an easy tool that impacts so many aspects of operations.
If you’re thinking maybe it’s time to stop the communications illusion, email or call me o set a time. We’d love to hear how you want to be communicating your image.