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How CEOs Can Better Keep Stakeholders In The Loop

To effectively run a business, it’s important for leaders to keep their stakeholders informed on all relevant matters.
How CEOs Can Better Keep Stakeholders In The Loop

The ability to clearly communicate is critical to a CEO’s success, but with so many people and priorities to keep track of, it can be difficult to make sure everyone gets the information they need when they need it.

Multitudes of issues can unfold when key internal or external parties aren’t in the know, from a lack of trust to low morale and high turnover. Below, members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss steps a chief executive can take to manage these challenges, ensure their stakeholders are well-informed and keep everyone on the same page.

1. Create A One-Page Stakeholder Map

Identify every stakeholder and each one’s degree of influence and impact on the CEO and business, along with what they need to know and how they prefer to communicate. If they don’t know the “what” and the “how,” they need to ask. Answering these questions enables CEOs to build rapport with their stakeholders and ensure they address “what’s in it for them” in the most relevant, valuable ways.

2. Start With A Clear Strategy And Objective

A good visual will ground everyone and help them understand the strategy. Communicate the strategy and progress through a color-coded status system and make adjustments if necessary. Add three to five major objectives for the leaders who report directly to the CEO, which should cascade down to all employees as performance objectives. Review the status regularly with employees, leaders, the board, customers and suppliers.

3. Keep An Updated Communication Chart And Checklist

Keeping stakeholders in the loop and informed of all relevant matters is only one part of an effective communication strategy. Keeping your communication chart and checklist up to date will give you a strategy for getting your message out to the right people. You also need to have open meetings with each of your communication groups where they can speak about what you share to improve two-way communication.

4. Treat Your Board As A Partner

Bring your board members in individually, and as potential allies, as you build a point of view. Learn from them in earnest (assuming your board is well-constructed). Stakeholders are, by design, invested in your outcomes. Treat them as though they are part of your larger system. Systems tend to adapt and move as a whole, and larger, more complex ones especially benefit from advance notice.

5. Understand Each Stakeholder’s Needs

CEOs need to account for their stakeholders’ needs, and using their senses is a great approach. Who do they need to see consistently? What do they hear when listening to concerns, and how do they confirm those messages that are not vocalized? How do they need to touch this critical group? Whatever their sixth sense is—the superpower that separates them from the rest—they need to use it to maintain strong connections.

6. Redesign The Communication Process

Rather than simply updating others on what you feel is relevant, create an ongoing conversation to open up the exchange, find out what is relevant to the stakeholders and adapt as needed. The post-pandemic world is full of changing systems, processes and needs, and this change demands that CEOs redesign communication to be more fluid and collaborative.

7. Share Information In A Predictable, Dependable Format

First, stakeholder groups need to be defined; then, predictability is key. CEOs should have a regular communications calendar for each group—some overlap across groups can also work. The key is that the various stakeholders know with certainty that these regular communications will occur, and that there is a dependable format for getting information and getting their questions answered.

8. Find Out What Works Best For Stakeholders

Build strong relationships with key stakeholders, understand their primary issues and concerns and create opportunities to keep them informed in ways that work for them. Some stakeholders are comfortable with group communications from investor relations, while others expect personal contact. Know your audience, prioritize the most important communication and ensure that top stakeholders are engaged.

9. Devise Strategic Relationship Plans

Companies have strategic business plans, and leaders must have strategic relationship plans. Communicate purposefully, intentionally and consistently. Create a cadence that allows for ongoing two-way dialogue with key stakeholders. Sometimes, it’s to share information, and other times it’s to listen and take information in. A mix of formal and informal channels is good, but consistency is key.

10. Make Stakeholders Part Of The Decision-Making Process

The best way for CEOs to keep their stakeholders in the loop is to make sure they are part of the decision-making process by providing regular updates as well as gathering their feedback. Rather than constantly engaging in one-way communication, this approach creates a trustful environment where everyone feels heard and involved in the bigger picture. – Cristian Hofmann, Empowering Executives | SUPERGROUP LTD

11. Create A Consistent Communication System

Effective communication is key to being effective as a CEO. Thus, creating a communication system that could provide information on a weekly or biweekly basis, or in any manner that pleases the stakeholders, is important. A good understanding of stakeholders’ needs will further help to build an effective communication system.

12. Host A Monthly Pulse Meeting

During a monthly pulse meeting, you can celebrate your workplace culture and the people that make it happen every day, update your workforce on what is happening within your business and keep them focused on the future strategy and roadblocks that could get in the way. The best part is that it doesn’t have to take all day—a simple 45-minute, in-person or virtual meeting will do!

13. Use A Multi-Loop Feedback System

We often think about C-suite communication as a single-loop process, where communication goes one way. A more expansive approach is to use a multi-loop feedback system, where information is iterated between multiple stakeholders. Create a confidential, high-trust and diverse group of advisers who act as a testing ground for what needs to be shared, with whom and when.

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