3 common executive communication blunders

Ghostwritten blogs and scripted videos reek of inauthenticity. To build trust and meaningful rapport with workers, push your leaders to craft their own messages, flawed delivery and all.


Employees want to hear from executives.

In our national research of employees working for large companies, 72 percent said they want to hear directly from top management. More than 84 percent say that communication they receive from corporate management is “not enough.”

Unfortunately, when employees do hear from their leadership teams, the communications are not as authentic as one might hope. Of course, it’s far easier for everyone—busy executives and the internal communications team—to have leaders simply sign off on communications prepared by others.

However, impersonal, inauthentic communication of this nature misses a huge opportunity to build engagement, trust and rapport.

It’s important to help your company leaders understand the impact they can have by speaking directly and authentically to employees. At the very least, try to steer them away from these three common mistakes:

1. Ghostwritten blogs. Employees aren’t fooled by polished prose posing as something the CEO actually wrote. If your leadership team shows any inclination or interest in penning their own blogs, reassure them that a few personal paragraphs would be much more valuable than something produced for them. Remind your leaders that blogs are supposed to be human and imperfect. Edit as needed, but leave execs’ voices intact.

2. Scripted videos. Having a talking head read from a teleprompter is boring, and it reeks of inauthenticity. This sort of canned messaging is a waste of resources. Video can be a powerful tool for leadership communications—when and if the executives are comfortable speaking to the camera as if they were having a conversation. Give leaders talking points, not a script. Remind them that they can mess up as many times as they want, and you can edit those parts out. Let execs know that coming across as a real human being is more important than seeming rehearsed and flawless.

3. Cascading only. Cascading information through direct managers can be an effective channel—especially in companies with lots of non-desk employees. However, it’s a mistake to rely on cascading communications alone. Particularly in times of upheaval, employees want to hear directly from top management—even if those executive communications are prepared by other people. Start there if you must, but keep pushing for top leaders to do at least some communicating themselves.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a town hall or a tweet, a letter or a podcast. Find a channel or two your execs excel at, and push them to communicate more. The channel or platform is not important. What is important is that employees experience leaders communicating with them directly, authentically and consistently.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin is CEO of Tribe . A version of this post first appeared on the Tribe Good Company blog .

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