Thursday, February 3, 2011

CEO Calls

One thing I've always enjoyed is when my Commanding Officer (CO) or CEO holds a, "CO Call" with my people. This is where the CO comes and meets with my people, face-to-face, in a very personal and close setting. The managers and any upper leadership leave the room and the CO talks and listens directly to the people in the trenches with no buffer. I want to talk about the benefits and rewards of this and why I think it's an excellent idea.

One benefit of knowing that these meetings will be happening, on a regular basis, help leadership ensure that they have already followed up on or addressed their people's concerns. When leaders have ignored or have not followed up on problems,  I've seen cases where team's completely throw the leadership under the bus, sometimes rightfully so. Other times I've seen that one person's concern was very valid and actually brought about change in the organization.

Why is it a good idea for the upper management to meet with the people on the ground floor?

  • Uncensored communication: It almost becomes a, "Undercover Boss" situation. The only difference being is that the people know that they are talking to the main man/woman. It's good for the boss to hear it straight from the people on the front line. So many times when someone in the trenches sends a complaint or suggestion up the hierarchy it get's stomped out or watered down to the point that it is ineffective when it reaches the boss. When the message is sent directly from the person to the boss, the boss has the opportunity to hear the original message and then can ask more detailed and compelling questions to the person. Thereby getting a better formed opinion of the problem or solution. 
  • Add's a human element to the boss: I have had CO's who were great at communicating the fact that they are just as human as everyone else. They tell anecdotes about their families and kids, their successes and failures. It allows people to see that they put on their pants one leg at a time, just like everyone else. It builds loyalty within the organization.
  • It shows that leadership cares and is concerned about everyone: To many times, people at the lower levels of an organization feel that they are unheard and uncared about. They feel like they are just another resource to be used and disposed of. When they are engaged by a caring leader who listens to them with concern, they will respond to this in a positive way. 
  • Leadership can get a true measure of the organization: Once one person speaks and the group sees that they are not flame thrown or dismissed. The others will start to speak up, other like minded people will start to give positive or negative reinforcement to what is being said, therefore showing a majority thought process. This allows leadership to see when a problem is a growing concern among many, not just a select few.
  • Leadership can deliver a new plan directly to the people who will be executing it: One other thing that I've seen that is very effective is when the boss details a new plan, vision or mission to the people directly. The people can hear it straight from the source and understand what it is that is expected of them and how it will impact them. It also gives the people the opportunity to share their concerns with leadership about new plans, at which time they can be addressed or can be looked into further prior to the execution phase.

When this meeting is over, stand by for feedback not only from your boss, but your people as well. Be ready to write it all down and then follow up on it. CO's that follow up and ensure that problems or solutions are addressed and implemented are really showing the value of these meetings and reinforcing the fact that the leadership values it's people. You can do this at any level of leadership. When I was a departmental manager I would meet with the entire department and then I would meet with each individual division. It allowed me to hear what was going on and allowed me the opportunity to connect with and serve my people better. 

What are some other ways we can engage with our people? 

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