Exceptional leaders address their entire company at least four times a year. Exceptional managers do the same within their departments. These people understand that, more than anything else, their job is to set the vision for the company and embed it in the minds and hearts of their employees. Read our post on How to Deliver the Company Address for a primer.
We’ve seen brilliant examples of these presentations from the leaders and managers we work with. Genuine, heartfelt, inspiring messages delivered to the people who agree to spend most of their waking hours in service of another person’s dream that they have adopted as their own. We have also seen some horrible, cringe-worthy speeches. Our experience has inspired us to present some wise advice to you. Here are the three things a leader must never do in a company address:
It’s not okay to skip the speech. A short address is preferable, particularly if people are required to stand while you speak, but you can’t avoid it altogether. Staff can’t meet your expectations if you don’t tell them what those expectations are. Repeatedly. Until they are rolling their eyes with a “not this one again”. Do it quarterly and reap the benefits of a unified team working toward a common goal.
2. Wing It
You do not need to write all of the sentences and memorize the address. You DO need to decide four or five points you want people to remember. Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. A rambling, unprepared talk is evidence to your team that you do not have a clear direction. If you do not have a clear direction, you will start losing your best people as they wander off to better ventures with more invested leadership. So you must prepare. The only thing worse than a leader delivering an unprepared company address is a drunk leader delivering an unprepared company address.
3. Highlight Poor Individual Performance
Public shaming is never okay. It breeds fear, distrust, and awkwardness amongst the staff themselves. No matter how frustrated someone may make you feel, you cannot call them out publicly. At Bellrock we usually encourage leaders to speak their mind and call it like they see it. But not in public. The exception to this rule is if you have personally made an egregious error in judgment; you can call yourself out on the carpet, but not someone else.
Now that you know what you should not do (ever), what should you do? Read our post on How to Deliver the Company Address for a primer.