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August 31, 2020

How to Convince Your Leader(s) There is Always Time to Communicate


Something I often hear from leaders is, “I don’t have time to communicate.” It seems this statement comes from a perception that either there isn’t enough time to draft a plan or that more could be done in the time saved from drafting or sharing a plan. As a communicator, you likely hear this too.

If your leader believes that there’s no time to communicate, you may hear him or her say things like:

  • “I’m too busy.”
  • “I’d rather focus on my business priorities and leave the communication to the communications team.”
  • “There are more important activities than communicating.”
  • “Our stakeholders don’t really need to know and/or already know about (fill in the blank)”

These “no time” expressions should serve as your cue to sound the alarm for the need to communicate. Work to build your leader’s understanding that leadership and communication really can’t be separated.

You might be thinking, where do I start? Your solution should involve both discussions with your leader and some actions on your part, both of which we offer tips on below.

Here’s a starting point for a conversation with your leader. Pick the one that you think is the best springboard:

  • You can’t not communicate. Everything you do communicates something – whom you recognize and reward, what you focus on, how you spend your time – really everything.”
  • “To be effective at communication you must be purposeful, and that takes planning.”
  • “You can’t afford NOT to take the time. If you don’t have time to communicate, you don’t have time to lead.”
  • “Planning your communications ahead of time helps to avoid cleaning up a mess later.” This is a natural spot to share an example where not planning, didn’t go so well for the leader.
  • “You can’t assume that everyone shares your perspective and understanding of important topics. Either you help people know what you’re thinking about, or they’ll fill in the gaps themselves.”
  • “Every opportunity to communicate is a chance to bring more of who you are to your team; to help them get to know you and what you care about.”
  • “I can help you maximize your communications to achieve your business goals, which will save you time in the end.”

Show your leader that making time to communicate is important:

  • Role model what you want to see – plan your communications with your leader, and you can provide support, too, by helping to plan communications for them.
  • Look for “high visibility, high impact, low drag opportunities” for your leader – this could be as simple as walking the halls and engaging with employees at a safe distance, or dropping in to a team Zoom lunch, or checking in with them on the phone or proactively addressing a talked about topic in an upcoming town hall.
  • Share industry/competition best practices or research related to communication – bring proof points to your leader, such as the latest communication data to back up your recommendations.
  • Measure the impact of senior leadership communication – this can be done in a myriad of ways, from simply having your leader ask colleagues and employees how they think they’re communicating and reading the body language of those your leader speaks with, to a process a bit more formal, such as a survey on your leader’s communication effectiveness.
  • Have your own mini-business case ready on the role of communication – your elevator speech, proof points (employee data) and stories (including success stories from other parts of the business) to help your leader see the benefits.

If you’re wondering how you might approach having this conversation with your leader, we have a tool that may help. Try this free 5 Step Planning Tool – Take 5 To Communicate Well – to make your communication more planful and purposeful. As we said, it all starts with role modeling what you want to see.

How will you show your leader that making time to communicate is essential?

David Grossman

Map out your communication, whether it's to one person (i.e., your leader), a group or an organization. Being more purposeful in your communications can take as little as five minutes.

Click below to download your free copy of the tool—Take 5™ Planning Template—today!

Click to download the free communication planning template - The Grossman Group

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