Anonymous Career Advice

How To Connect Company & Company Leadership Team

In this week’s anonymous career advice column, we hear from someone who is facing common struggles many of us do. 

Dear focus, many of the company is struggling with connecting with their bosses and the ELT. They are disconnected and really wrestle with being approachable and being able to commit to the direction we are going. Any tips?

Thanks for sharing your experience today. I will take a guess this has happened for a prolonged period of time and likely started before the forced work-from-home experiment. 

There are five givens within businesses who are going through a phase of change, it sounds like you are experiencing three: 

  1. A leadership team who are trying to balance being connected and keeping the right amount of distance 
  2. A manager who struggles to connect with their team, the law of average is there will be two or three per ELT who just cannot connect. 
  3. Teams become disconnected or detached from the direction or the compass of the company. 

There are a few routes to making positive change, this will depend on if your ELT or management team like to receive feedback and what the time frame they will want to place on these issues. 

The 3 Steps

The best route, step up and let them know they are failing at a couple of these points. This is not easy however you could go through your department lead, 

The second route: You could go directly to the CEO (this is often the scariest but most effective) and explain the issue you and many others are facing. Some companies have a liaison or a group/committee who will take these concerns on and pass on the collective message.  

The HR Route: You could go via HR. HR will rely on the message and often lands. This however raises the question, is will it land and do they really have the sway of the ELT to make them change the way they operate? 

People Performance

Many ELT’s and SMT’s like to perform, their job is performance-based, in front of each other, in front of an audience, in front of the board, this is something that can be considered and incorporated in changing your specific but common predicament. 

Something I have experienced work and work for others when recommending this tactic is introducing an ELT standup with the business away from BAU monthly or quarterly updates. 

Weekly might be too much, however, fortnightly (bi-weekly) and monthly can connect with specific leaders, it can help create clarity and help those to know what the ELT is doing and what the state of play is in real-time. 

Frequency In-person – seeing and hearing directly from leadership teams builds connection and familiarity, which then builds trust. 

Many ELT’s and SMT’s do not like real-time Q&A as they will not be able to vet the questions and can often become them vs us if the team’s questions are not answered to the level the “floor” are looking for. This is where the setting and agreed format will work, if real-time Q&A is needed then it will have to be a format followed. 

If questions cannot be answered, then they should be answered by internal communication channels. 

One important note is if long term strategy, numbers and performance are going to be discussed, it is important that the responsibilities are shared with department leads and their teams to build trust and allow the teams to connect with the broader management team. 

FYI Management teams often needed development and specialised courses, it is worth remembering often this is one of the last developments made within businesses.  

= Company Culture

What is often overlooked here is the company culture is actually set by the employees, however, the guidance and principles set by leadership, the ELT should help to set their company culture up and help to create a compass with guidelines and agreed principles. 

If their actions, their guidelines and the principles are not working from the leadership team then the collective actions and agreed behaviours aka the company culture will start to fail, and you land in a hard place for the teams to understand how to communicate and commit to the company.

Very often it is where clashing leadership teams fail and often the mid to mid-senior-level leaders actually step up and lead the company into the next phase of evolution. This can seem intimidating, however, this is a huge opportunity and something that is often recognised. 

Good luck with this and remember, there are always ways to step up and deciding if this is something you should lead or partner with colleagues is essential for the company and your development. 

Two related services that are vital when faced with similar issues:   

Strategy audit

Company culture audit 

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