by | Nov 20, 2018

‘Tis the season for the annual end-of-year CEO holiday letter to employees. Unless you happen to have the rare CEO who actually writes his or her own missives to employees, that means somebody’s going to need to ghostwrite it.

So the goal is to ghostwrite the CEO holiday email in the most authentic way possible. And that means not making it up out of thin air, or just taking last year’s letter and changing a word here and there. The best way to channel the CEO’s personality and voice is to score an interview and record the conversation to be transcribed so you’ll have actual quotes you can use for the letter.

That will require getting some time on the CEO’s calendar. Tell his or her executive assistant that it could even be a 15-minute phone conversation while the CEO is in the car. You don’t need a ton of time, but it will help tremendously to have a few thoughts straight from the horse’s mouth.

Plan ahead by mapping out the basics of the letter so you can get relevant quotes. You should know the top two or three company milestones and achievements over the past year. Maybe you acquired another company, entered a new global market, launched a new product or introducing a new long-term growth strategy for the company. Ask the CEO to comment on what made that success possible or why it’s so important.

If the year included some disappointments, give the CEO a chance to explain how the company is now back on course. If there were job losses due to a re-org, or a hospital had to be closed, or one of the manufacturing facilities suffered hurricane damage, ask the CEO to put that into perspective for employees. For instance, if the manufacturing plant is still functioning during ongoing repairs, then this is an opportunity to thank the managers and employees there for being adaptable and dedicated.

Ask if there’s any message he or she would like employees to take away from this letter. This could be something specific about the future, or it could be just best wishes for the holidays. It doesn’t need to be anything particularly original. Something along the lines of appreciation for their efforts over the past year and good wishes for a warm and joyful holiday season would do the trick.

Wrap it up by asking how the CEO celebrates the holidays. Employees like opportunities to  know their executives as actual human beings. It doesn’t have to be anything too personal or revealing. It could something as simple as including that four generations of the CEO’s family will be gathering to spend the first night of Hanukkah together, or that the CEO always makes waffles for his kids on Christmas morning. Details like that help connect us with each other.

And that is the best possible result of the annual CEO holiday letter — to help employees feel connected. In fact, that’s really one of the best reasons for the whole practice of internal communications. To read about some common mistakes with CEO communications, see this blog.

Interested in improving your CEO communications throughout the year? Tribe can help.

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