5 Ways Leaders Can Improve Communications to Engage More Employees


“What we are looking for are leaders at every level who can energize, excite and inspire…”
–Jack Welch, GE CEO, retired

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the activity and information in your life? You’re not alone. Research indicates that people feel they have reached, or surpassed, their information threshold.

One recent study said that the average American receives up to 3,000 marketing messages per day, not including voice mail, e-mail, texts and the rest. The result is that attention spans are incredibly short. This is a reality that leaders in particular must face as you attempt to engage employees in today’s workplace.

To effectively engage employees in this difficult, attention-starved environment, here are five ways to improve your communications to engage more employees:

Be employee-focused.

The single most important factor is that you address the concerns of your employees. It sounds simple, but it’s so true. The fact is that when someone tries to get our attention, we all ask the same question—“What does this mean to me? or, Who Cares?” Ask that question yourself, from your employee’s point of view, when deciding what topics you’ll address. Better yet, ask employees themselves. Find our what’s really on their minds and address those issues, head on.

Be real.

When you address the topics on employees’ minds, give straight answers. This might feel uncomfortable at first, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the positive feedback you’ll get. Employees today crave authenticity more than anything. Your honesty and transparency will be well rewarded.

Keep it Simple.

When talking to employees you should be simple and clear. Leaders sometimes find comfort in jargon and complexity. That puts a wall between you and your employees. You should try to be jargon-free. Leaders should adopt a zero-tolerance policy on jargon. Every organization has jargon, which acts as a roadblock, often stopping comprehension cold.

You should also be crystal clear. Using overly complex language can be a crutch. What you think is connecting because it sounds “deep” and “meaningful” is actually completely losing your employees. Complexity gives you no higher stature, no greater respect, and certainly no greater impact. Let me say this simply: If people don’t “get you,” you’ve lost the game before it even begins. Keep it simple.

Use positive, powerful language.

Too often leaders will undermine their own messages by using passive and/or negative language. Your messages should use positive language to focus on the benefits to your audience. Not, “It is a critical that we all work together to achieve our stretch objectives.” Instead, “Employees will see an increase in opportunities for promotion and profit-sharing as we achieve these stretch objectives together.”

Make it Interesting.

If you’re going to break through the clutter, you’ll need to keep it interesting. Find a unique turn of phrase, an analogy or, best of all, a story to bring life to your messages. You’ll have an exponential increase in retention–and engagement.

By using these methods to improve your communications, you will begin to feel some movement in employee engagement with you and your organization. But be aware, this is not a one-time commitment. The real benefits will be longer-term as you continue to connect with employees and build a deeper relationship of trust.

Secrets to your success?

How do you better engage your employees? What are the secrets to your success? 

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John Millen

John Millen, @johnmillen, is the Chief Strategist and blogger for Reputation Group. He is also a husband, father, runner and cyclist. John partners with leaders to improve their communications skills and confidence. Connect with John on LinkedIn.

Reader Interactions


  1. OLIVER MBOBE says

    I’m very interested to your articles and I want some analysis concerning Business development and leadership sustainability
    Oliver MBOBE
    Democratic Republic of Congo

  2. Vishakha Bansal says

    These are the five most important key points which you should have to become a good leader. I am fully agreed with Mr. John Millian’s article. I think your character should be real and you should have a little bit hummer in you which makes you a interesting leader as well.



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