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Oct 15, 2019

Approx. 9 min. read

Leadership Communication: How to Build Trust in the Workplace

Effective leadership communication is one of the biggest drivers of company success. Leaders are the ones responsible for building trust within...

leadership-communication-in-the-workplace

Effective leadership communication is one of the biggest drivers of company success. Leaders are the ones responsible for building trust within organizations and, therefore, improving employee engagement and experience.

What Is Leadership Communication?

Leadership communication is transfer of information, data and knowledge by which leaders are influencing their colleagues, teams or entire organization.

Good leadership communication involves understanding people and their styles, understanding culture, being well informed, holding meetings and driving organizational alignment.

The Importance of Leadership Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills a leader can have. If a leader is incapable of communicating with his or her peers, company’s overall strategy, mission and goals may never be achieved.

Great leaders need to be good communicators because they have the responsibility to drive efficient communication among all the members of the organization. 

📕Download our free eBook "How to Boost Internal Communication" and find out how to build an internal communication that drives employee engagement in the workplace. 

For someone to become a good leader it takes constant improvement of many communication forms, such as: non-verbal communication, listening, counselling, speaking, writing, etc.

Barriers to Effective Leadership Communication

It is not easy to achieve effective leadership communication. That is especially true within large corporations with employees across the world. 

Here are some of the main barriers to effective leadership communication.

Lack of trust

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, both personal and professional, and when it’s broken, it is extremely hard to repair.

Therefore, one of the main goals of corporate leaders is to build trust within their organizations.

One the other side, the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer showed in a survey of 33,000 individuals in 28 countries that almost 1 in 3 employees don’t trust their employers.

leadership communication and trust

Effective leadership communication is the best way for leaders to build trust with employees. 

Lack of clarity

Being too ambiguous is one of the biggest barriers to effective leadership communication. Leaders who are unable to express themselves with clarity and precision, struggle to motivate their teams and keep them engaged. 

Lack of transparency

50% of employees say that a lack of transparency holds their company back. Therefore, effective leadership communication should strive towards embedding workplace transparency into the corporate culture. 

workplace-transparency

They should share company news including milestones, events, personnel changes, innovations and even challenges. However, this is not easy to do while avoiding overload of irrelevant information. 

Overload of irrelevant communication

Not every employee should get all the information about the company. Some information is simply not relevant to certain employees. 

Too much irrelevant information often leads to employee frustration and decrease in productivity

On the other side, being able to filter information and communicate it efficiently is not easy without the right tools. 

Wrong communication technology

Some businesses are still using outdated communication tools. In addition, many organizations use multiple internal communication and document sharing tools. 

Today, leaders need modern internal communications solutions that enable both leaders and employees to communicate efficiently and have an easy access to all important information.

Most emails that employees receive don't deserve their immediate attention. For that reason, it is common for employees to miss out on important information

9 Ways to Build Trust with Effective Leadership Communication

Poor leadership communication is often the biggest reason for lack of trust within organizations

Here is what you can do to make your company and leadership communications more trustworthy. 

1. Be transparent

Strong leaders are transparent in their communications. Employees need for CEOs to improve trust by behaving in a transparent manner, treating employees well, and taking responsible actions to address issues or crises.

Luckily, organizations can easily get access to new internal communication technologies that can be used to increase transparency across organizations, locations and systems.

2. Be specific

Being clear and specific is crucial for effective leadership communication. Make sure you are as specific and as clear as possible. Leaders who are able to communicate with clarity and conciseness are much better in avoiding confusion or misunderstanding in the future.

Moreover, 71% of employees believe that their leaders do not spend enough time communicating goals and plans.

statistic on leadership communication

3. Listen and support two-way communication

The imperative of every strong leadership communication is the ability for leaders to create a safe space for open dialogue. When employees are talking to you, make sure you are listening. This type of engagement establishes a meaningful trust and respect between leaders and employees.

Listening means nothing if you are not encouraging two-way communication. Millennials and younger generations want to be able to express themselves and share their ideas with others. 

4. Give feedback

Leaders should strive towards giving meaningful feedback to their employees and feedback is essential for building trust in the workplace. 

For example, if you are expecting your employees to adopt certain new behaviors related to culture transformation, they you get feedback and recognition for embedding the new behaviors. 

This approach will help employees to develop a trusting and authentic workplace relationship

Consider introducing communication tools that encourage feedback and employee communication in an instant way. 

Asking for feedback, on the other side, can be tricky. The damage happens when a leader asks for feedback and then either does nothing to improve him or herself or attempts to identify the source of criticism and punish it.

5. Make important information easily accessible

Today’s workforce expects information to be easily accessible and found. Whatever leadership communicates, this information should be at employees’ fingertips whenever they need it. 

Many organizations today use numerous tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, Jive Sharepoint, Facebook Workplace, intranets, Social Media platforms and many other tools to share and deliver important information. 

Now, the focus should be to have the content from all these platforms in a single place

If information can not be easily found, it will get lost. In order to make sure that employees stay engaged and informed, leaders need to make sure to provide efficient communication tools.

6. Choose the right communication technology

Modern communication tools like Smarp enable leaders to deliver relevant information to their employees. On the other side, they enable employees to easily access important information from anywhere. 

When choosing a communication tool to improve leadership communication, have your employees in mind. Millennials in the workplace and used to accessing everything on their phones, so should your communication solution be mobile-first. 

Employers that don’t understand how social enterprise tools work, fall behind in efficient internal communications. Leaders must be aware of how these tools are transforming cultures, employee behaviors and supporting teamwork and collaboration. 

7. Be personal

The most effective leadership communications are those that connect with the audience. The more personal and engaging your conversation with employees is, the better. 

Communicating on a deeper level helps displaying a strong level of authenticity and transparency that establishes a sense of trust between a leader and an employee.

8. Measure trustworthiness

Leaders, with the help of HR professionals can create a greater awareness of trust issues. In the near future, we may see organizations measure trustworthiness as they now assess engagement. Such a metric would give companies an advance warning system for problems.

9. Measure engagement

Can you measure the performance of your internal communications messages? Can you measure what type of content triggers employee interest?

Internal communications play a big role in driving employee engagement. However, they need to be able to measure what drives engagement.

Sending internal newsletter that no one reads makes no sense. Therefore, you should measure and test both the content and channels that employees prefer to communicate internally. 

8 Consequences of Poor Leadership Communication

Poor leadership communication and lack of trust within organizations have a very negative impact on employee engagement, and therefore, business performance. 

Below are just a few consequences of poor leadership communication: 

1. Decrease in employee engagement

Engagement starts at the top, where the culture of the organization is formed. Since lack of communication is one of the main reasons why employees are disengaged, leaders now must build a solid foundation where employee engagement can thrive.

Remember, leadership engagement equals employee engagement.

2. Decrease in employee motivation

85% of employees said they’re most motivated when management and leadership offer regular updates on company news. Employee awareness of company goals and challenges accompanied by a clear definition of their role, leads to increase in employee motivation.

leadership communication importance

3. Lower employee productivity

Employee engagement is one of the top drivers of business growth. In fact, companies that have highly effective internal leadership communications had 47% higher total returns to stakeholders.

When the employees buy into the company’s goals and consider them their own, they are more likely to achieve their own goals.

4. Increased employee turnover

Lack of trust and poor communication are some of the biggest reasons why employees leave their companies

Moreover, 81% of employees say that they would rather choose a company that encourages open communication than a company that has good perks such as health plans, free food and gym memberships. 

5. Harder employee attraction

An Atlassian survey demonstrated that 87% of people want to work for transparent companies. The more trust and transparency leaders manage to embed into company values and culture, the easier it gets to attract and retain talent within companies. 

6. Poor reputation as employer

In addition to lack of engagement, morale and employee retention, John Blakey, the author of The Trusted Executive, says that the lack of trust within organizations can harm the overall company’s long-term reputation.

7. Inefficient change management

According to research, two thirds of employees don’t receive sufficient information during corporate change. On the other side, effective change management is crucial for business success and employee engagement during the change processes.  

Communicating changes within organization is leaders’ homework, and the only way to be successful in doing so by improving leadership communication. 

According to research, companies with effective change and communication are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers. 

8. Higher financial losses

Poor leadership communication also results in higher efficiencies and financial loss. 

A survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees. 

In addition, a business with 100 employees spends an average downtime of 17 hours a week clarifying communication, translating to an annual cost of $528,443.

Improve Leadership Communication with Smarp

Smarp is a mobile-first employee communications platform designed to help leaders improve communication and better connect with their employees, no matter where they are located. 

As mentioned earlier, employees spend too much time trying to find relevant information which is why this information often gets lost. 

With internal communications technology like Smarp, leaders and organizations can now deliver personalized content to their employees and communicate in a much more efficient and engaging way. 

Smarp connects all of your internal communications tools and delivers the right message to the right employee at the right time

Schedule a Smarp demo to see how our solution is helping organizations across the world to boost their internal communications efficiency. 

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Written by

Kristina Martic

Kristina Martic

Digital Marketing and Employer Branding

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