Mar 14, 2024 - Business

Axios Finish Line: Your real Job 1

Illustration of a typewriter with the Axios "A" logo on the paper.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Most employees aren't taught how to communicate effectively — and that gap follows them when they become bosses.

Why it matters: Your paycheck may say you're a CEO or a senator or a manager or a teacher. But you're really a communicator.

In this election year like none other, the report says, organizations will expect their leaders to "stand up, speak out, and advocate for employees. And the trust teams place in executives can be heavily scrutinized, hard won, and easily lost."

  • That was a big finding of a clever Axios HQ survey that compared responses from 414 senior leaders with 1,035 employees in beginning or middle-manager roles.

From the report and our own experience in 17 years of leading media companies, here are six tips to make sure everyone's staying aligned on your organization's big goals:

  1. Communication is a team sport: Often C-suite bosses are among the organization's most active communicators. But teams should be hearing from leaders at every level, including those closest to them.
  2. Don't wait: At Axios, we've always been very intentional about having all-staff conversations on big issues early, and to get ahead of the questions that naturally arise if there's a vacuum.
  3. Clarity is everything: "Even excellent goals will fail if the details leaders share are hard to parse or feel overwhelming," the report says.
  4. Repeating = winning: Axios CEO Jim VandeHei advises leaders to think of their brand as a political candidate: When you're sick of hearing yourself say your big mission, it's just starting to sink in.
  5. Cadence is key: At Axios, an all-staff newsletter, 5 Big Things, goes out every Friday afternoon, with a focus on what's coming up. Then on Monday, we have an all-hands meeting.
  6. Data is your friend: "Most leaders ... wouldn't launch products without user input — but they share directives without asking staff which channels they prefer," the report notes. "Communication is the core of any strategy. Start with data. Be visible. Stay accessible."

Reality check: Sloppy communications are costly.

  • HQ found that executives lose a ton of time addressing the fallout of misaligned organizations — dealing with higher turnover, losing customers and fighting fires instead of keeping everyone's eye on the prize.

Read the 33-page report.

  • This article appeared in Axios Finish Line, our nightly newsletter on life, leadership and wellness. Sign up here.
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