Straight Talk: Training leaders to communicate in the new world

By Heloiza Faria and José Guilherme Araújo, Directors, Ideia Comunicação – an MSLGROUP Partner in Brazil. This article was first published in the People’s Insights magazine The Future of Employee (Re)Engagement, and is re-published below.

Heloiza and Jose

Leaders – the #1 source of information

Whether a company is large, medium or small, global or domestic or yet in any kind of industry, communication with employees will always be a challenge. In the current networking society, winning companies have to communicate with all stakeholders, the internal ones to begin with. For those, despite all technology available and the virtual environment we live in, face-to-face communication from immediate leadership still is of great importance.

Internal communications researches conducted in organizations all over the world can prove that. Speaking of Brazilian companies, in particular, audits run by Ideia Comunicação still show that the employee’s number one source of information is the supervisor, the guy immediately above him, especially in troublesome moments as the processes of change.

New world of interaction

We are now 2.3 billion Internet users worldwide. In Brazil, half the population is connected, making Brazil the 5th country in the world by web use. This data highlights the power of interaction in a globalized world – and challenges us to think of its impact on organizations. The new world demands more transparency, dialogue and competition, because it exposes companies. The internet, for example, promotes more informal relationships, broader possibilities for comparisons, and in this way demands greater market differentiation.

These changes at first sight seem to decrease corporate control over employees. They are no longer the only source of information about the company. In different ways, all stakeholders can be credible sources of information about the organization. Employees, in turn, are now more well informed, inquisitive and demanding. Skeptical of one-way communication, they ask for more involvement in business decisions.

Communicating with 21st century workers

Would this “new employee” be more available to commit and engage with business objectives? And the leaders, would they be ready to act in the new relational context? In our many years of practice, we have learned – and still find – that when it comes to commit and engage, the more strategic it is to meet the preference of employees for straight talk. That is what has been making a difference in this environment of multiple print and digital platforms.

In order to make it work, specific methodologies must be put into practice. One of them is for training leaders so that they understand how important they are in the communication process and therefore why they are expected to engage as communicators. The ideal training program should also provide leaders with tools to communicate with the 21st century worker, as part of the whole employee-relations process.

Companies that have more effective internal communication are those that understand the importance of communication between immediate leaders and employees. These organizations have found out that this straight dialogue allows people the opportunity to question, clarify and understand the contribution of their work to the bottom line.

By engaging people under the guidance of their leaders, this communication process improves the results that actually matter to the organization’s success.

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