Make Your Case: Use Research to Help Convince Your CEO of the Value of Communication

By Davis, Alison | Communication World, May-June 2012 | Go to article overview

Make Your Case: Use Research to Help Convince Your CEO of the Value of Communication


Davis, Alison, Communication World


Tamara Smith had a challenge. As the director of employee communication for a global industrial company, Tamara (I've changed her name and other key details for this article) knew that the CEO and other senior leaders should be communicating more actively with employees. After all, compared with the CEOs of competitors, her CEO was practically invisible. Other than "writing" a quarterly email message (which Tamara's boss, the vice president of communication, actually drafted) and occasionally being interviewed on video, he rarely showed up in communication channels. And he almost never had face-to-face contact with employees.

This particular CEO wasn't neglecting internal communication because he was so busy doing media interviews. Tamara's boss bemoaned the fact that he didn't do much external communication either. The reason? He said he was too busy running the company to "spend a lot of time talking about it."

In terms of building employee engagement, Tamara was well aware of the importance of senior leader communication. She had read the 2010 Right Management white paper that shows a statistically significant correlation between how employees view leaders and how engaged they feel--and that cites "effectively communicating my organization's strategy to employees" as one of the four critical factors in employees' confidence in company leaders. She worried that unless her company's senior leaders communicated more, employees would become as disengaged as those surveyed by Maritz Research in 2011. That survey suggests that in the United States employees' trust in leaders is eroding; in fact, only 7 percent of those surveyed said that senior management's actions are consistent with their words.

Tamara had drafted a comprehensive communication plan for the CEO and key members of his executive leadership team. But although her boss thought the plan was sound, he worried that the CEO wouldn't buy in to it.

"He's a smart guy," her boss said. "But CEOs at this company have never been very visible. In fact, he communicates more than his predecessor did. So it will be hard to convince him to act differently."

Her boss had another concern. "Results from last year's engagement survey were pretty good," he said. "And you know what the CEO always says: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' The only way that he will agree to your communication plan is if there is a compelling case for change.

"If you can make that case," he continued, "I think you could sell him on your plan." He smiled. "And if you figure it out, share your secret with me. I would love to convince him to do more media interviews, speeches and other external communication."

Research makes the case

What does Tamara need to convince her CEO to invest his time in communication? The answer, of course, is research. She must find evidence-quantitative and qualitative data--to provide context, establish a need and support her approach.

Without such evidence, we communicators find ourselves in a discussion where effective communication seems subjective--that is, my viewpoint versus the perspective of someone who has a higher title and more authority than I do. Evidence, on the other hand, levels the playing field. I no longer enter the room alone: I've got data from hundreds or even thousands of others to support my position. Remember, CEOs and other leaders are used to making fact-based decisions, so they're more likely to take your advice if you have data to back it up.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Consultants like me are well aware of the power of evidence. We're influential not only because we offer an outside perspective, but also because we bring compelling research to the conversation. We share stories of how leading companies have addressed issues. We conduct studies that generate statistically significant data. And we uncover qualitative evidence through interviews and focus groups. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Make Your Case: Use Research to Help Convince Your CEO of the Value of Communication
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.