CEO Face Time

The COVID-19 pandemic and new global realities of restricted travel and closed offices has given engaged CEOs yet another problem to solve. How does a remote-working leader maintain a leadership presence among staff and executive team members without a physical presence? I have always believed in the importance of face-to-face communication, and will admit that these last few months have required me to change the way that I lead.

At the most basic level I can always make an individual phone or video call to touch base with a VP of Sales or give kudos to a software developer on a new feature, or join a marketing team meeting during a strategy session. But those communication methods, while they can be personal and powerful, are not sustainable for CEOs who run global organizations with hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of employees. There are simply too many people to connect with, and not enough time to connect with them all.

On one end of the spectrum I do hold highly produced, studio-run, all-hands, live video broadcasts to my entire employee base. These have moved from quarterly to monthly. These events are now remotely produced by me and our team.  These take time and do not really create the level of regular connection with a personal touch with anyone. They have their place, but not when our goals are about employee engagement.

With the above in mind, I’ve found a great communication solution that sits firmly between an individual interaction and a high-production video event. I run a regular, interactive, all-hands broadcast directly from my home—with no technical support, no production assistance and no more than three mouse clicks. I use slides, live chat, live Q&A and polling, and sometimes I even invite remote guest speakers. I also save the recorded event as a video on demand asset, for people who could not attend live. And I do it all with my company’s own video platform, Qumu Cloud.

Every week, I also use the simplicity of regular 3-4 minute recorded updates that I share on Slack with the entire team. This is a simple overview with a link to the video in Qumu Cloud. This allows me to constantly share updates in my own words. It takes mere minutes and allows me to connect in ways an email would not. The feedback from the team has been tremendous.

The good news is, as a business leader you don’t have to work for a video platform company to make this happen within your enterprise. Here are few tips to get you started:

  • Start simple. Treat your live broadcast as a conversation: unscripted and with no bells and whistles.
  • Make it feel like a hallway conversation instead of a town hall meeting. Be sure to use your camera, don’t over-dress, and give yourself permission to be human.
  • Keep it interactive and engaging. I like to use features like live Q&A — because as a leader I’m there to listen as well. And engagement with our team enables me to know what my team is thinking about and answer questions they otherwise may not have asked.
  • Be authentic. When you’re using live interactive tools, it’s okay to admit you don’t have the answer right at hand. Also, don’t be afraid to display emotion when warranted.

CONCLUSION

As a leader today, it is more important than ever to stay connected with your team—and the most effective alternative for face-to-face communication right now is video communication. Of course this doesn’t mean we won’t return to a more personal level of interaction someday. But given the current circumstances, I’m finding tremendous upside in video’s ability to help me reach and engage everyone in the organization worldwide.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you have questions about improving your ability to connect with your team in the new normal, either complete our Contact Us Form, or you can request a one-on-one meeting with me directly using the new Book Time with TJ functionality on our website. Take care.

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