Ask the leader connects employees directly to a leader in a structured and planned way without any filtering. The means by which a leader can foster direct, two-way interaction with their employees include the following:
Dedicated email address.
– Leader’s blog.
– A facility for sending questions/comments to the leader via the intranet.
– Scheduled time slot for the leader to take telephone calls from employees to discuss their issues, concerns and ideas.
The leader’s commitment to these forms of direct interaction is a powerful symbol for open and transparent communication to strengthen trust and build engagement.
This tactic is useful for:
✓ Mitigating the filtering of important information so the leader knows first-hand the opinions, mood and concerns of employees, and employees receive a direct response.
✓ Getting buy-in and commitment to the leader’s vision, and the values of the organisation or division.
✓ Giving employees a voice back to the leader.
✓ Identifying potential hot spots.
✓ Providing employees with insight into the leader’s priorities.
✓ Raising the leader’s profile.
Things to consider:
⇒ Establish a communication conduit appropriate for the target audience, e.g. telephone, intranet, email, blog, etc.
⇒ Develop guidelines about the purpose and desired outcomes of the ‘Ask the leader’ tactic. This ensures it doesn’t become a vehicle for venting problems and issues that should be addressed by employees’ immediate supervisors.
⇒ Determine a schedule for the leader’s availability. In a large organisation or division, the leader may wish to take employees’ telephone calls only at an appointed time.
⇒ Have an ‘Issue of the Month’ to focus attention on specific topics. Promote that topic widely via posters, newsletters or an email from the leader.
⇒ Establish the turn-around time for getting back to employees with information the leader was unable to provide.
⇒ Archive employees’ questions and leader’s answers to create a valuable knowledge resource.
Publish a summary of topics raised by employees (ensuring anonymity of participants if necessary) together with the leader’s response. This communicates key messages about issues of the day to a broader audience. Select the most appropriate communication tactic(s) for this purpose.