Five Tips for Better CEO Communication

Kelly Riggs has distilled three decades of experience—as an entrepreneur, business owner and salesman—into a book, ”1-on-1 Management: What Every Great Manager Knows That You Don’t,” published by Brown Books. A main theme is that great management is great communication. As he puts it: “The primary role of the manager is to communicate.”

Riggs spoke recently at a Long Island (NY) meeting of TAB – The Alternative Board, where he delivered these Five Tips for Better CEO Communications.

1.  Clarify your meaning. “Poor communication is the single biggest problem facing leaders in corporate America. Telling someone that you expect them to Get Results is not communication. You need to provide clear expectations. You need to hear back from your report that he or she undersands those expectations and knows how to follow up. The four words you never want to hear are: ‘I didn’t know how.’”

2. Frame your expectations. “Go beyond stating what you need. Define your time frame and provide the context of what you need, when you needd it and why you need it. Wait to hear back that your employee really understands what it will take to get the job done.”

3. Do your communicating one on one. “Large group meetings suffer from a lot of problems. Employees usually hate them. The best way to communicate is one to one. The employee, not you, should do most of the talking. Start the meeting with a few general questions: What does your week look like? Or: What are your priorities for the week? Then listen.”

4. Manage face-to-face, not by email. “Read a seven-word email, and you have seven opportunities to get the message wrong. Meet someone in person, watch them and listen to them, and they have a much better chance of getting it right.”

5. Meet often and purposefully. “Avoid the end-of-the-year, Big Meeting scenario. It’s better to meet every week and focus on what’s coming up, rather than meet infrequently and evaluate what’s already happened. I’ll put it this way: the annual Performance Evaluation is basically worthless.”

Riggs’ website is Reach him by email at [email protected].



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