Know your audience

Jean Birch, President, IHOP

Do you think about what your employees want to hear from you when you speak to them? Or do you worry more about what you want to say? You need to be conscious of both, but sometimes it’s easy to get so consumed with your own message that you lose sight of your audience. What are they supposed to do with your remarks? How should they respond to what you say? What if they have questions and feel uncomfortable approaching you? What should they do then?

In the past few months, Smart Business has spoken with several leaders about this very issue. Check some of their thoughts and see why they believe communicating is about more than putting your words on paper and reciting them for your employees.

“It’s probably far more important that we understand how those who work for us want to hear things and want to communicate. It’s not about my dominant style. It’s more about what that individual who works for me needs.”

— Jean Birch, president, IHOP

“I can’t necessarily get all my employees to follow me unless I get out there and inspire them. If you’re not communicating with them, they are expending energy every day and they are expending it in different directions. … The job of a leader is to harness all of that energy and get it to move in unison like a flock of birds or a school of fish.”

— Adam Coffey, president and CEO, WASH Multifamily Laundry Systems LLC

“You win the hearts and minds of the people. Not because of charisma or because of empty rhetoric. But because you have a substantive idea that makes sense and they see your optimism and they see your excitement.”

— Mel Elias, president and CEO, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Summary: Think before you speak; Harness employee energy; Develop your idea