CEOs still don’t get employee communication

April 7, 2010

in communication,culture

At US Airways Group Inc., CEO Douglas Parker is making monthly appearances at pilot-training sessions. Quicken Loans Inc. CEO Bill Emerson began holding weekly two-hour lunch meetings with employees in January. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Chairman Robert Moritz is asking executives to roam the halls more.

“As the economy turns around, there’s more of a risk of losing people so we’ve increased the efforts” to talk with workers, Mr. Moritz says.

an article in monday’s WSJ cheerfully highlights these shining examples of CEOs who are suddenly turning their attention to communication now that the threat of evacuating employees is becoming a reality. most of them echo moritz’s sentiment—earlier, they were taking care of business.

i have a news flash for these CEOs: talking with employees day in and day out is taking care of business.


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Karl Roche April 7, 2010 at 8:57 am

It’s just crazy that this is repeated cycle after cycle. Makes you wonder what they think the employees are there for.


Frank Roche April 7, 2010 at 9:08 am

Like my cousin Karl said! Fran, that a great line. Talking to employees is taking care of business. Full stop.


fran April 7, 2010 at 9:14 am

my next job — a family yenta. glad i could bring you two together. 😉

it’s dismaying that this is being reported and trumpeted as extraordinary.



Frank Roche April 7, 2010 at 9:22 am

What a perfect second career. You can get testimonials from me and my long-lost cousin Karl, who never heard of me until we met at free range yenta. (Brand extension? I think so!)

hey CEIs, you don’t get a medal for talking at the holy unwashed.


fran April 7, 2010 at 9:25 am

lol. since i can also fabricate families for people, it’s sure to be a healthy biz. who else do you want to be related to?



Frank Roche April 7, 2010 at 9:32 am

Lol. I’d like to be related to someone famous. That could be free range yenta’s premium service. You too can have a famous relative.


Ayelet Baron April 7, 2010 at 9:58 am

One of the challenges is that we have allowed leaders to delegate and “out-task” many of their communication responsibilities. It has become more about activities than day-to-day responsibilities and accountabilities. Take a look at the rise of executive communication functions and their infiltration in corporate America …
Inclusion and diversity is another area where leaders need to have it as part of their DNA … not staffed … Just my 2 cents


fran April 7, 2010 at 10:03 am

ayelet, those who have it as part of their DNA certainly have a leg up. but i don’t think we can afford that luxury, since those with this DNA are few and far between. do you?

maybe that’s an upside to articles like these and to profiles in the NY times “corner office” series — they highlight that excellent leadership and high performance includes an intense dedication to ongoing communication.



Karl Roche April 7, 2010 at 10:15 am

I had to look up “yenta” 🙂 Ours talk more like, “To be sure, to be sure.”

Nice to meet you cuz. How’s the family? Nice posters btw


Ayelet Baron April 7, 2010 at 10:32 am

Personally, Fran, I think it is an excuse. The responsibility has been delegated and it is accepted. Social media realities will change much of this because conversations will shift to real time and will require a different type of leader.


Karl Roche April 7, 2010 at 11:28 am

Funny you say that. I got a bunch of leaders to do a podcast each at work, didn’t write anything for them, just asked them to talk about something for 3 or 4 minutes. The ones that came up with something in their own words were much better received than those that found someone else to write something for them. I refuse to write anything, other than give them the general idea of what I want the task to achieve and what sort of outcome I would like, in terms of action or response from employees.

The best of all was the newest leader of the bunch and that was reflected in the downloads and responses. The worst were the ones that thought about it for too long and had been in the role for ages. I think it is a combination of confidence, habit and available additional resources to delegate to. Not scientific but thought I would share.


Ayelet Baron April 7, 2010 at 9:38 pm

i am not surprised actually. At a time when trust is an issue, authenticity becomes far more important.

Employees are also consumers who are changing how they communicate and also their expectations around timeliness. They then come to the workplace with different needs.

I think we all want real leaders who can communicate every day and engage in conversations. it is going to be increasingly interesting to see how the generations will interact and expectations around communications will change, especially when organizations start hiring again.

Lots of fun stuff to look forward to!


fran April 7, 2010 at 4:19 pm

karl, i’m tempted to throw my yiddish your way, but i’ll restrain myself because i’m a mentsch. ooh…

karl & ayelet, i do think you’re right about confidence and habit. i’m torn on the delegation part. yes, leaders delegate to the official communication professionals–or ignore them. beyond this, i wonder whether it’s more that the responsibility’s been abandoned because short-term gain has become acceptable, if not desired, by many companies?

what do you think?



Paul Smith April 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Give me a break. All of a sudden, CEOs start roaming the halls & talking to employees, and they are expecting what? For the employees to fall to their knees, starry-eyed and thanking the heavens because the boss is talking to them. It’s insulting that they think employees are that dumb or they were just born yesterday to believe the CEO really cares NOW.

“it’s dismaying that this is being reported and trumpeted as extraordinary.”–actually it’s sad.


Karl Roche April 8, 2010 at 4:50 am is a great site.. :o)

Short term gain indeed. Who isn’t hacked off with the quarter by quarter stupidity that every public company finds itself in? The more clever and sophisticated our businesses become the more stupid they behave, talk about unintended consequences.

There is a movement of companies (private of course) that are going beyond pure growth and profit to actually doing something worthwhile. While I know many companies do “something worthwhile” they are restricted by what they do in the public company format. It needs to change. Companies like Howies are leading in this field and I’d buy all their clothes and kit if I could afford them. When a company is making clothes that will last several lifetimes it’s something I want to be part of.

Not only the products but the way the company interacts with it’s staff is fundamental to these new companies, realising that firstly, it’s not all about profit and dominating the world.. Secondly, employees that enjoy work do more of it, have better ideas and put more in.

The problem with large organisations is that the top gets isolated into a little bubble, possibly due to the competition that is happening between those people, because the organisation only has one leader and eventually all jobs are dead end jobs.

Be thankful for what you have, do good things, have fun and enjoy making employees and clients happy. That’s sort of like a mentsch right? :o)


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