This is a retroactively posted “live” blog of Rick DeLisi leading CEB Communications Leadership Council’s 2013 Annual Executive Retreat on Adapting Leadership Communication to the New Work Environment.
9:03 AM ET: All 18 Communications Executives are now in the room, focusing on Rick as he kicks off the meeting with a monologue about one the top strategic priorities for communicators in 2013 – internal communication between leaders and employees. An important note: the study refers to “leaders” as the top 200 or 300 leaders across your company. Not all the way down to Line Managers, but we’re referring to C-Suite, VPs, General Managers, Division Heads, etc.
9:10: Rick outlines the “Ideal Leader” as described by the membership – “authentic,” “inspirational,” “trustworthy,” “accessible,” etc. – and the typical Communications tactics for improving those traits – stylistic coaching, content creation, and channel management. Essentially, these leaders should be able to drive effort and performance by helping employees understand company goals and how their work aligns with those goals, and by creating a culture where employees are fully committed to the company.
9:15: Rick outlines a quick agenda for the day. It seems like most members are still not seeing a boost in employee performance despite their best efforts, so we are going to spend the next several hours learning how the most successful communicators support leaders and employees. Rick gives a quick teaser about how the “Ideal Leader” may not be so ideal after all and then breaks for introductions…
9:18: One audience member went to “the biggest party school in the country,” which prompts Rick to invite the room to do Jägerbombs with him later. This should be a fun day!
9:45: The audience is nodding in agreement as Rick shows some data illustrating today’s new work environment that is more complex and interdependent than ever before.
9:46: It turns out that, in this new work environment, high performing employees are no longer those who just excel in individual task performance. Rather, they excel in both individual task performance and network performance (e.g., the degree to which employees share and learn skills, knowledge, and tools among themselves).
9:55: To much of the surprise of the communicators in the room, the relative importance of both components of employee performance is roughly the same. Rick turns to Scott to explain how we used MANOVA analysis to come to this conclusion.
10:00: I awake to applause; Scott must have just finished his explanation.
10:05: Interesting data here – only 17% of employees are high “enterprise contributors” (e.g., strong individual task and network performers). Rick does a quick math lesson with the room – if a company were to double that number to 34% (i.e., where one-third of employees are high enterprise contributors), the company profit would increase 1.2%. For an average company in the CEB Communications membership, a 1.2% increase in profit would be in the tens of millions of dollars! Looks like we are on to something…
10:25: Rick drops another bombshell – increasing an employee’s commitment to their company does not do anything to improve individual task or network performance. On the other hand, an employee’s commitment to their co-workers has a significant impact on both components of employee performance. There is definitely a “whoa” feeling in the room, but the audience seems to understand why this is the case given the backdrop of “the new work environment.”
10:34: The room disperses for coffee, tea, or a Jägerbomb.
11:29: After a long technical glitch in the simulcast room, we’re back. Rick and the audience are in the middle of talking about a common challenge with regards to “Leadership Communication” – how to coach leaders to be less directive and more inclusive. Practically everyone agrees that such a shift is nearly impossible.
11:38: There’s no need to fear…Rick DeLisi is here! It turns out that there is a third set of leadership communication behaviors that is a much more natural shift from a directive set of behaviors, and that has a much greater impact on network performance than directive and inclusive behaviors. Rick describes this set of behaviors as enabling (i.e., encouraging employee interaction and giving context behind decisions – ultimately, enabling employees to solve problems on their own and with their peers).
11:46: Rick’s original teaser about the “Ideal Leader” not being very ideal is coming to fruition now. He is showing the room a compelling pie chart indicating that four out of five employees prefer leaders who enable over leaders who inspire.
11:54: Here’s the road-map for the next 30 minutes before lunch. Looks like we are going to start with an exercise focused on creating enabling messages for (and with) leaders. Following that exercise, Rick is promising to show two great best practice case studies from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (something about using town halls to showcase the behaviors of leaders that the company wants employees to emulate) and Hallmark (looks like we have some neat tools coming out of this case about using a survey to keep track of leaders’ reinforcement of desirable employee behaviors).
12:01 PM ET: The simulcast is continuing to experience technical difficulties. Looks like I’ll have to attend one of the other upcoming Retreats or Regional Briefings to see how this all plays out. I suggest you do the same!
CEB Communications Related Resources:
- Help Executives Understand Their Communication Role
- Coach Senior Leaders
- Employee – Employee Communication
CEB Communications Related Blogs: