Courtesy of Forbes
If we needed to share news, we just leaned over to the person next to us or stood up and made an announcement. When there was a major sale or a big win, a slow clap would steadily build until people were all cheering together (incidentally, a practice that survives to this day).
But as Hootsuite got bigger, growing to hundreds of people, then to nearly 1,000 employees in offices around the world, things got more complicated. What I realized is that when you reach a certain size, communication doesn’t just “happen” by itself any longer.
As CEO, I was in contact with a core group of people on a daily basis—but others I’d rarely see even in the hallway. Across the company, the same thing was happening. Departments began to get siloed. Swamped by emails and announcements, employees started to tune out. Actually connecting—even on fundamentals like yearly targets and company values—became a real challenge.
We weren’t alone, of course. Large, global companies lose an average of $62.4 million per year due to poor communication. Even smaller ones squander an estimated $5,246 each year per employee. Lack of direction from management and poor communication are cited as a primary reason people quit their jobs. Communication gaps breed uncertainty, kill productivity, lead to churn and ultimately sabotage customer service.
The fix? Well, there’s no magic bullet. But I think the solution starts with setting the right tone from the top. As a leader, if you’re truly accessible and communicative, the rest of the company learns from that example. Then, it’s a matter of being deliberate—of realizing that good communication isn’t an accident and needs to be helped along, in big and small ways.
Here are five battle-tested approaches I’ve used to open the lines of communication inside Hootsuite, in an effort to ensure everyone is kept in the loop, has a chance to connect and also has a channel for feedback.
Weekly video selfies. This sounds so simple, but it’s been a lifesaver. Each week for the past two years, I’ve recorded a quick five- to ten-minute video on my iPhone and shared it with the entire company via Facebook Workplace (a closed network just for employees). I’ll talk about big company news, relay challenges and goals and offer congratulations on team wins. It’s nothing fancy (and the production value is super low), but it allows the entire company to get aligned on top priorities and hear what’s important, straight from me. In turn, these videos get dozens, sometimes hundreds, of comments in response, as employees add information, clarify and ask questions.