Share this article:

Close up of communication definition

Communicate, Then Ask For a Response

One of the best CEOs I know sends out a company-wide email every Monday about an issue, concern, or opportunity. It is a short message that expresses his concern regarding the topic. He invites employees to respond via email with their comments. Employee emails are directed to an assistant who compiles their responses, removing information about who responded, and the list is forwarded to the CEO.

On Friday, the CEO sends out another all-employee email expressing his thanks for the responses. He includes a few examples and explains how he will use this feedback.

The CEO finds that not all topics receive the same response rate. Ones where employees have a personal investment such as issues about benefits, raises, working conditions, work and safety practices, etc. receive numerous responses. Strategic and high level issues receive fewer responses, but employees who are affected by the issue take the time to respond.

Over time, the CEO has discovered that employees grew to be more engaged because they are assisting him in running the company. The majority of the employees that we interviewed about this process felt that the CEO valued their input.


Employ Humor as an Engagement Tool

People respond well to humor, especially to humor that either pokes fun at a sacred cow or sends a message. Imagine that you see employees who are overly focused on their phones and as a result are not paying enough attention to customers walking around your stores. You could immediately establish a policy forbidding employees from using their phones during working hours, but in doing this you might create a tremendous amount of animosity and spark behaviors that could negatively impact customer service.

To express your concern, find cartoons, illustrations and even video clips that lampoon this concern. Post copies of them to bulletin boards and your company’s internal website. With each one, pose a question like, “What do you think we should do about this?” You will discover that employees respond very well to this because many of them share your concerns and will appreciate that you brought the issue out into the open. On the other hand, you may also discover that employees do not think this is a problem, which is feedback that employees lack the awareness of how personal technology is interfering with customer service.

Keep in mind this leadership truism:

–        Humor opens lines of communication by removing unwanted friction.

“Globally, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the more than 32,000 full-time workers participating in a Towers Watson study are not highly engaged. While this isn’t surprising — considering workers have been doing more with less, and for less, for over half a decade — it poses a significant risk for employers.”