You might think your visibility as a leader is going to have to take a back seat right now, because you’re up to your eyes in keeping staff two metres away from each other and dealing with IT, financial and communication issues.
Life as we know it at work has had to change. You can’t ‘walk the floor’, hold meetings or deliver presentations in person. Talking with the team won’t be happening face to face, in person.
But as more people start to work from home and social distancing becomes imperative, you still need to show up as a leader. And that means maintaining, and ideally increasing, your visibility.
It’s time to embrace new ways of being seen – and get comfortable and confident with this.
So, the following aims to help you remain visible, accessible – and above all, human - to your teams and colleagues while this surreal new world of working establishes itself.
Although email is a solid way of announcing information, it’s not going to help you get your values, purpose or personality out there for colleagues, customers, partners, suppliers or your wider industry. Yes, up to date news and development need to be communicated – but it’s not the only thing you need to do to be seen.
Social media is surprising leaders as a powerful tool for communication. This is the CEO of Sainsbury's Mike Coupe getting some praise:
You should be making use of the free to use platforms available – Twitter, LinkedIn, Vimeo, email, your website, your intranet, Facebook. Essentially, wherever your people are, turn up there.
It might mean using two, three, four of these platforms – but don’t guess this, ask your teams what their go-to social media apps are.
Make use of the company page or closed group page to share information and engage with your people. It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason, and now is the time to be social with the people who look up to you as their leader. They crave this from you – don’t disappoint.
You might not feel confident or particularly slick at this yet because you may have relied on marketing or PR support to carry this out for you, but you will get into the swing of it in a very short space of time. I know I did when I first started using social media in a more conscious way.
Take action now: if you’ve been a bit of a lurker on social platforms, it’s now time to tidy up your profiles and invite colleague and customer connections, pronto.
My work hard once tip: you don’t have to drum up new ideas for every platform you use. Create content (that means write something, or record something, share something) and spread it across all your chosen platforms.
Now is the time to be available to your people in a range of ways. Different styles or modes of content will hold people’s interest over a longer period of time. If all you do is send out a weekly instructional email, then you’re likely to lose engagement or feeling of connection you might have with your colleagues and teams.
And nor is it right to copy and paste, what you just sent out in an email, over to Twitter or a Slack or Teams group. People hate that and deserve more. Remember that people absorb and engage with information in different ways and love being entertained.
So, start posting and sharing photos of you being you. That’s right - your hastily thrown together home office set up, your pet, a book you’re reading, you on the phone.
Other ideas include: recording a short video message every week on a Friday, writing blog posts, posting something useful, sharing an article that’s interesting, ‘liking’ others’ videos/blogs/posts etc. and commenting to show that you’re engaged with what is going on.
Take action now: write down your ideas for when you’re in the mood to record or write something. Schedule time for this activity, or you’ll forget about it and become lost to your staff.
Word hard once tip: say the same thing, but communicate it in different ways. Your blog could be turned into a short video you record on your smartphone, for example. Expand on your LinkedIn post and turn it into a blog. Or ask a question to kick off a discussion, to engage people – and make the effort to respond to everyone who comments.
3.GET USED TO BEING YOU
The last thing people want from their leaders is communication from a faceless brand name or a repeated diktat from on high.
This LinkedIn post came to my attention, because I am the author of the book that this leader accidentally dunked in the bath. It’s obviously not meant as a serious bit of business communication, but it is fun and relatable:
You decide how personal you go with this, but whatever you choose as a subject – don’t hold back. We’ve simply got to get to know each other during this really strange time. Try recording a regular ‘hello’ video on your smartphone that you can share via the social platform you use internally.
Do I need permission?
I work with leaders on their visibility to look at how to be seen by and engage their staff and nearly every time, the issue of permission comes up. The default position is to rush to establish an approved plan, with marketing and PR input, or even delegating the work to those teams. But this is just repeating what’s gone before, and what’s needed is a new approach. One that is authentic, personable and easy to achieve.
Ask yourself this: can you hold a conversation with your teams or colleagues, in person, on your own, without marketing or PR input? If the answer is yes, you can communicate with your teams on social media platforms or internal channels.
Bit Famous works with organisations that are losing money or impact, because of a failure to share their messages well, either internally or externally.
We help them communicate with confidence and authenticity, so they can influence, inform and inspire the people that matter to them.