In this world of ever-expanding corporate titles there is the CEO (Chief Executive Officer); CFO (Chief Financial Officer); CTO (Chief Technology Officer); CIO (Chief Information Officer); CPO (Chief People Officer), to name but a few.
I suspect that in many cases a lot of these fancy “CXO” (Chief — fill in the blank — Officer) titles exist so people can feel good about how high they’ve risen in their organization.
I don’t really like fancy “C” titles because titles are not what typically helps you, a contractor, run your business.
That said, I’m in favor of a new title for you.
Chief Executive Communicator.
No, it doesn’t go on your Organizational Chart, and it’s not a paying position.
It’s someone at the very top level of your company in charge of communicating where the company is going and what’s in it for those who are helping you get there.
(Not sure where your company is going? Write Mission-Position-End Game statements to clarify your company vision.)
This probably means you.
So, what do I think a really great Chief Executive Communicator must do? Glad you asked.
Here are the most five most vital things you need to do to be successful.
- You have to create the vision and persuade the team to make it their vision too.
- You have to connect on an individual level and inspire people to move from an “I” mentality to a “We” mentality.
- You have to build trust by ensuring your verbal communication and your non-verbal actions reinforce each other.
- You must provide effective and never-ending communication with the team members because it is easy to fall off the horse and so hard to stay committed to this.
- You must put a structured communication system in place (meetings) and eliminate the need to say the same thing over and over.
Let’s go deeper on these items:
- Creating the vision and inspiring the team to make it their vision too.
As Chief Executive Communicator, you need to create in writing the vision of where you see the company today, one year from now, and three years from now. It requires you make it a reality rather than a dream, so it requires you plug in objective things like:
- What your top line sales will be
- What your gross margin will be
- How many trucks will be rolling each day
- What types of services and products will you be selling and by when
- What types of services and products will you be eliminating and by when
- Which type or types of unique market segments will you seek to have as customers (Ex: Residential, Commercial, and Industrial, or just some of these.)
- Who is the Ideal Customer for each of these market segments in clear descriptive language
Then, when you’ve put this all in writing, you will need to share this vision with big groups, small groups, and individuals on a continual basis — and even get them to repeat back what they understand the vision to be. Until they can repeat it back to you in a convincing way, your work as the Chief Executive Communicator is far from over.
- Connecting on an individual level and inspiring people to move from an “I” mentality to a “We” mentality.
We are all human. It’s only natural for us to think about ourselves, or what I call the “I”. But to be an effective Chief Executive Communicator, you need to share with them as a group and especially on an individual basis why there is a reason they will benefit from thinking about the team (aka the “We”) first.
Example: I share with clients in one-to-one work and in workshops that I trained my own staff to think like this: “Tell me how your being selfish (“I”) helps the customer win, then the company win, so that you, the employee, can win long term. Because if you can, I want to hear it.”
Note: Believe it or not, there are times that they could start from their perspective (or what I’m calling the “I”) and work it to become a “We.”
Example: A Tech says they want less rotational on-call shifts or at least less time being on call. That’s selfish at first. That is, until they say that they are happy to create more shifts like a 10 AM to 7 PM shift so it serves the customers on their schedule and On-Call becomes fewer hours that need to be covered.
- Building trust by ensuring your verbal communication and your non-verbal actions reinforce each other.
It’s been said and written that 70% of our effective communication is nonverbal. That means it’s more about what you’re communicating through body language and more than the words you’re saying. So, creating communications that don’t dovetail both verbal and nonverbal communication skills and tactics is doomed from the start. I’d love to tell you that you must be a great communicator and spend years in training to become one. The ability to establish eye contact and maintain it while smiling and sharing your passion for the ‘why’ of what you’re saying benefits everyone.
We buy from people we trust, and if you’re the Chief Executive Communicator, you’re in the business of sales. You’re selling an idea or ideas, and you must get buy-in. My advice here is only share what you yourself passionately believe is right and true, and then use your body and your words to share that passion. People buy passion.
- Providing effective and never-ending communication with the team members because it is easy to fall off the horse and so hard to stay committed to this.
It’s easy to get off to a fast start as Chief Executive Communicator and then fade quickly as the days, weeks, and months pass. Am I right? You bet I am!
Here’s what minimizes that. Make it a recurring calendar event to have well-run meetings at least weekly for everyone at your company. They can be as short as 15 minutes to as long as 1 hour. But, they must be used to deliver a never-ending stream of dialogue between you, the Chief Executive Communicator, and them. Communication isn’t you just talking. It’s weaving in time for them to talk, asking questions, and gaining clarity. This means you also must have developed great listening skills. The good news is that skill can be done by doing this:
- Ask questions, and don’t answer them. Let them answer them.
- When they talk, don’t interrupt.
- When they talk, take notes so that when you reply you can use their words.
People want to be heard. The more they feel they’re heard, the more they come to love you and buy what it is you’re sharing with them.
- Putting a structured communication system in place (meetings) to eliminate the need to say the same thing over and over.
You need to have the routine and mundane things that must happen reliably at your company handled. And to me, there’s only one effective way to do that — that’s by creating and getting it into your culture and the operating manuals that cover the day-to-day policies and procedures in a documented way so it’s handled.
Only in this way can you be the most effective Chief Executive Communicator, because now your communication time and effort can be directed to bigger things than items like, “When does the work day begin?”