Humanizing the CEO
Be straightforward about change
In Tribe’s national research with employees of large companies, respondents said they prefer to hear about major change initiatives straight from the CEO. They also want the CEO to shoot straight about how the changes will impact them — particularly if there will be a negative impact. Being honest about bad news can help build trust in leadership.
Point the way with an inspiring vision
Although CEOs often assume employees throughout the ranks are well aware of his or her vision for the company’s success, our research indicates that the further employees are from the C-Suite, the less they understand about where leadership is taking the company. Articulating an inspiring vision and helping employees understand how their individual roles support that vision are important elements of building trust.
Make a habit of praising others
Everyone knows no leader succeeds alone, so a CEO who acknowledges the contributions of others is something employees are watching for. Celebrating wins throughout the company, from supply chain and manufacturing to marketing and R&D, helps build collective pride as well as trust. Even better if that praise is for teams or individuals on the front lines rather than in senior leadership.
Go to where the employees are
Although technology helps us build human connections across geography, there’s no substitute for the power of face-to-face interactions. When employees have had the opportunity to shake hands with the CEO, to have him or her ask about the employee’s work or even just how their day is going, it can build trust not just with those employees but with all the others they share the experience with. Employees want the CEO to understand what it’s like for them on the front lines, and to share concerns or ideas for better ways to do things.
Let employees see the whole person
Finally, CEOs can let employees know a little about their lives when they’re not on the job. In town halls or emails, blogs or videos, on the intranet or in person, they can share details about their family, their interests and even their hardships. If their daughter is starting college, if they’ve just embarked on an ambitious DIY home project, or if their beloved dog has reached the end of his life, employees like hearing about it. When CEOs share that sort of relatable personal news, they create human connections and build trust.