As an organization grows, it can be difficult to communicate key principles and other important information as a leader. The reality is that organizational hierarchy can feel a bit like the game of telephone, leading to miscommunication and misalignment.
In an effort to reduce miscommunication, many leaders will hold in-person town-hall style meetings, where the entire company gets in a room and receives an update in a lecture-style format.
While this is useful, it can be unrealistic to run these meetings as frequently as they should happen. Communicating a message once per month is better than nothing, but you should expect limited results due to the infrequency of the event. In-person meetings are also expensive from a time-cost perspective, so it may be unrealistic to do these in-person events on a weekly basis.
Fortunately, there's a better way to complement a monthly all-hands meeting, and it's called the weekly CEO update. We'll show you why it matters and how it works below.
As the leader, you are responsible for steering the ship. As you already know, a massive boat can be turned by a tiny rudder - the same is true with what you say, how you behave, and what you prioritize. You have a ton of leverage at work.
Your team on the front-line can't read your mind. If you want people to care about the things you care about, you need to communicate it.
As mentioned in the previous section, holding a weekly all-hands meeting (especially as you grow), can become impossible, but instead of making the event less frequent, you need to find a more efficient way. The best way to do this is by composing a written update.
A written update isn't as "rich" as a meeting, but the advantage is that you can be more thoughtful when writing. It's also not as costly as people can read it when they have a few minutes.
Another advantage is that these written updates can be referenced over time, which helps build a library of updates that provides valuable context to new hires. Would you prefer a new employee onboard and gather a high-level overview of what has happened over the past year, or would you prefer they spend the next few months to try to learn it?
As a leader, it's also a fun experience to look back over time and see how far you've come.
p.s. - you should still have a monthly all-hands meeting, as it's still important to get in front of your company.
It's no secret that there's a disconnect between the front-line and leadership. How do you break down these barriers? By holding another all-hands meeting where you talk exclusively about numbers?
A written update enables you to craft a more personal message. Sure, you should still talk about numbers and performance, but you need to connect on a personal level too. You can't come across as a machine. People don't bond with machines.
Taking a minute to think and compose a message can help make you come across as a human. See how David Cancel at Drift does this with his weekly CEO email.
If you're convinced that this update would be a valuable addition to your company, let's dive into when and where the update should be sent.
As the article implies, this should be a weekly update. Consider sending the update early Monday morning as people show up to work. It's a great way to set some context for the week and to get people thinking about the higher level goals of the company.
The primary delivery mechanism will most likely be email. If you use Slack or Microsoft Teams, this may be another way to communicate to the rest of the group. Neither solution is perfect for the following reasons:
The key is to communicate the message in a way where there's the least amount of noise. This will vary depending on how your company communicates, but you need to make sure it's in a visible place.
If your weekly CEO update is full of KPIs and numbers you care about, you should expect mediocre results. Try to answer the question, "what's in it for the reader?"
What is relevant for the employee on the front-line? What is relevant for a middle-manager?
Why should they care?
Don't get me wrong, you still should have KPIs, but it shouldn't be the primary purpose. Connect at a deeper level - that's why you should kick things off by sharing what what you are thinking about. Gokul Rajaram shares a helpful framework in this post.
The reader needs to feel like they are gaining a unique and valuable insight that can help them connect with the mission and do better work.
This is our last piece of advice; every CEO update you send needs to have a question at the end.
The reasoning is simple:
We'd also recommend individually reaching out to some people for feedback on how you can improve the update.
To get where you need to go, you need to be an effective communicator. To be an effective communicator, you need to create communication habits. The weekly CEO update is one of many tools you should have in your toolbox.
Eliminate friction, enable productive habits, and spend less time on work that feels like work.