A few years ago, it was likely that the only time you heard from your company leadership was a quarterly town hall meeting or shareholder update. These days, your CEO could be popping into Yammer or your team’s Zoom meeting to check in. Times have certainly changed, and with economic uncertainty ahead, it’s almost guaranteed they’ll keep changing.

What does this mean for communicators and leaders alike? Public relations and communications services firm Padilla knew this would be the question of the year this year, so the company surveyed 100 C-suite leaders and company owners, a thousand employees and did 25 in-depth interviews with leaders to understand more of what’s going on and the best path ahead.

“In the past, a lot of executive communications was ‘how do I deliver the message and what message do I deliver?’ said Matt Kucharski, president of Padilla. “But now there has to be a certain level of teaching relatability and teaching humanism. The messenger and how the messenger comes off is almost as important as the message. And that’s creating a whole different approach to communications, approach to training the leaders as communicators, whether they’re spokespeople or whether just communicating at a town hall meeting. It’s a different set of skills.”

Sam Sventek, vice president of communications at 3M, has seen this all firsthand as he tries to advise his company’s executives and his global team of communicators.

“The amount of change and how rapid it is has grown significantly,” he said. “In the old days, it was a quarterly town hall meeting from an executive. Now it’s not quarter to quarter, things are changing week to week. We’ve really increased the number of touchpoints that our leaders have, and we’ve varied our channels. We need to take a multichannel approach.”

While he admits he doesn’t have all of the answers, Sventek says a good approach is admitting just that – that everyone is still figuring things out and will get through the storms together. What employees want is transparency from their leadership and to be involved in the conversations instead of being caught off guard.

“Going into listening sessions, you don’t have to have all the answers,” he said. “Employees just want to be employees as stakeholders. They just want to be acknowledged. They want to be heard. They want to have the discussion.”

Topics Covered: 

0:00: Introductions
1:11: Padilla’s Recent Survey
6:10: Areas Of Conflict Leaders Are Facing
9:44: There Isn’t A Precedent For Today’s Troubles
12:43: Getting Stakeholders To Buy Into Change
16:51: Transparency Can Be Frustrating, But It’s Necessary
20:15: Leaders: Get Out Of The Glass Tower And Get Involved
25:24: Attributes Leaders Want From Their Communicators
28:19: An Impact vs. Activity Mindset
31:43: Measuring Sentiment With Internal Audiences
35:02: The Importance Of Training For The Next Wave